Which medications in the drug class Calcium Channel Blockers are used in the treatment of Migraine Headache?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

Calcium Channel Blockers

Calcium channel blockers are commonly used as prophylactic medication for migraine, although studies of their effectiveness have shown mixed results. Flunarizine has the best-documented efficacy but is not available in the United States. The efficacy of verapamil is supported by studies.

This class of drugs is particularly useful in patients with comorbid hypertension and in those with contraindications to beta blockers, such as asthma and Raynaud disease. Calcium channel blockers may have particular advantage in patients with prolonged aura, basilar-type migraine, or hemiplegic migraine.

Calcium channel blockers are considered second-line agents for patients with chronic migraines. Tolerance can develop with these drugs but can be overcome by increasing the dose or switching to another calcium channel blocker.

Verapamil (Calan, Isoptin SR, Verelan)

Verapamil inhibits calcium ions from entering slow channels or voltage-sensitive areas of vascular smooth muscle during depolarization. Verapamil has an off-label indication for migraines. The drug is frequently the first choice for prophylactic therapy because of ease of use and a favorable side-effect profile. Patients may report an initial increase in headaches, with improvement after weeks of treatment.


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