Verapamil is a calcium channel blocker that is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), severe chest pain (angina), and irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia). It may also be used as a migraine prevention medication, although it has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for that purpose. This is called “off label usage.” Many times, doctors learn of new research showing a medication is effective in treating a condition and prescribe it for their patients who have exhausted available FDA-approved treatment options.
Verapamil is sold under the brand names Verelan®, Verelan® PM, Calan®, and Calan® SR.
How Verapamil works for migraine
Verapamil is a calcium channel blocker that works to inhibit the influx of calcium across smooth muscle membranes, ultimately relaxing coronary and systemic arteries. Researchers believe that this action may have a similar effect on the body’s activity that causes migraine attacks.
Response from the community: Was Verapamil effective in relieving your migraine symptoms?
We asked the Migraine.com community how effective they felt Verapamil was for them, and 37% said the medication reduced their symptoms significantly, with another 13% having all their symptoms eliminated. For a small group (12%), migraine symptoms were cut in half. However, others found only slight relief (18%) or had no relief (19%) with Verapamil.
Was Verapamil effective in relieving your migraine symptoms? (1,515 total votes)
Not at all (19% | 295 Votes)
Slightly eased symptoms (18% | 279 Votes)
Cut symptoms in half (12% | 182 Votes)
Reduced symptoms significantly (37% | 560 Votes)
Eliminated all symptoms (13% | 199 Votes)
Possible side effects of Verapamil
The most common side effects experienced by patients taking Verapamil include:
Rarely, Verapamil may cause serious side effects, such as congestive heart failure or pulmonary edema.
Response from the community: How would you rate the side effects you experienced with Verapamil?
Most of our community members surveyed experienced no or only slight discomfort from side effects with Verapamil. A small percentage (5%) said the side effects they experienced will limit their use of the drug. Only 8% said they won’t use Verapamil due to side effects.
How would you rate the side effects you experienced with Verapamil? (1,262 total votes)
- No side effects (40% | 507 Votes)
- Slight discomfort from side effects (28% | 350 Votes)
- Noticeable side effects (19% | 239 Votes)
- Side effects will limit my use (5% | 64 Votes)
- Will not use due to side effects (8% | 102 Votes)
Other things to know about Verapamil
Before starting treatment with Verapamil, patients should talk to their doctor about all their medical conditions. Some people should not take Verapamil, including those with
severe heart abnormalities, low blood pressure, poor heart function, certain heart rhythm problems, certain types of blockages in the heart called second or third degree atrioventricular (AV) block, rapid heart rate or any allergic reaction to Verapamil.
Patients should talk to their doctor about all their medications (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements, and herbal remedies they are taking. Some medications should not be taken with Verapamil, including CYP3A4 inhibitors. Other medications taken in combination with Verapamil may require close monitoring by a doctor, including simvastatin, lovastatin, beta blockers, and digoxin.
Grapefruit juice can significantly increase the levels of Verapamil in the body.
Drinking alcohol while taking Verapamil can increase the blood alcohol concentrations and prolong the effect of alcohol in the body.
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?