Which medications in the drug class Ergot alkaloids and derivatives are used in the treatment of Tension Headache?

Updated: Nov 21, 2017
  • Author: Michelle Blanda, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Ergot alkaloids and derivatives

These are direct vasoconstrictors of smooth muscle in cranial blood vessels. Their activity depends on the CNS vascular tone at the time of administration.

Ergotamine tartrate (Cafergot, Cafatine, Cafetrate)

Alpha-adrenergic and serotonin antagonist. Causes constriction of peripheral and cranial blood vessels.

Dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal Nasal Spray)

Alpha-adrenergic blocking agent with direct stimulating effect on smooth muscle of peripheral and cranial blood vessels; depresses central vasomotor centers. Mechanism of action is similar to ergotamine; nonselective 5HT1 agonist with wide spectrum of receptor affinities outside 5HT1 system; also binds to dopamine. Thus, has alpha-adrenergic antagonist and serotonin antagonist effect. Indicated to abort or prevent vascular headache when rapid control needed or when other routes of administration not feasible.

Available in IV or intranasal preparations, tends to cause less arterial vasoconstriction than ergotamine tartrate.

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