Calcium Channel Blockers to prevent migraine headaches: an introduction
Calcium channel blockers are most often used to treat high blood pressure, hypertension. Some drugs in this class are also used to prevent migraine attacks.
Calcium channel blockers are considered a second-line therapy for migraine prevention, meaning they aren’t doctor’s first choice. Beta blockers and antidepressants are often considered the first option. Some patients find the number of migraine attacks increase when they first begin using calcium channel blockers to prevent migraines.
How Calcium Channel Blockers work to prevent migraines
This class of medications appear to block the effect of the chemical serotonin that operates within nerves. Serotonin leads to contracting, tightening of the blood vessels in the head and also lowers a person’s tolerance for pain. Therefore calcium channel blockers are believed to help prevent migraines by interrupting the action of serotonin.
Side effects of calcium channel blockers for migraine
- Swelling of the legs with fluid, edema
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat, tachycardia
- Sudden reddening of the face, neck or upper chest, flushing
Who should not take calcium channel blockers
Some calcium channel blockers shouldn’t be taken along with grapefruits or grapefruit juice. Grapefruits reduce the liver’s ability to eliminate the drug from your system, which could cause a dangerous build up of the medication in your body. Calcium channel blockers should not be used by patients with a certain type of blockages in the heart called second or third degree atrioventricular block. Also it shouldn’t be prescribed to patients with left ventricular failure, which occurs when the left side of the heart must work harder to pump blood.
Different calcium channel blockers that are used for preventing migraines