Candesartan is just as effective as the more commonly prescribed propranolol when it comes to preventing migraine attacks, according to a new study from St. Olavs Hospital in Trondheim, Norway and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), which was published online on December 11, 2013 in the journal Cephalalgia. The researchers have also found that candesartan may work for patients who get no relief from propranolol. "This gives doctors more possibilities and we can help more people," says Professor Lars Jacob Stovner, leader of Norwegian National Headache Centre, who also led the study. If one drug doesn't work for the migraine patient, the other one may. Side effects may also vary from patient to patient. The new study is a follow-up on a ten-year-old study from the NTNU. Candesartan is already in use by several doctors as a migraine prophylactic, but the NTNU follow-up study, which confirms the study from a decade ago, provides the proof that the drug actually works. More than 20 percent of migraine patients report that they feel better even when they are given a placebo. But blind tests show that candesartan works preventively for another 20 to 30 percent of patients. The hope now is that candesartan will be even more commonly prescribed. Migraines are thought to affect a staggering one billion people worldwide. Twelve percent of the Norwegian population suffers from migraines, or more than 500,000 individuals. This poses problems for the individual, but is also costly for society in the form of sick leave and reduced ability to work. Preventing migraines thus offers many benefits. The NTNU study was a triple-blind test, which means that neither patients nor doctors nor those who analyzed the results knew whether the patients had been given placebo or real medicine, Dr. Stovner said.
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