-- Alan Mozes
MONDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The intravenous
administration of aspirin appears to be a safe and effective way to
treat hospitalized patients suffering from either severe headaches
or migraines, new research indicates.
Study author Dr. Peter J. Goadsby, of the Headache Group in the
department of neurology at the University of California, San
Francisco, described his team's findings in the Sept. 21 issue of
"Intravenous aspirin is not readily available in the United States, and only on a 'named patient' basis in the United Kingdom," Goadsby noted in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology. The 'named patient' program is for those who have exhausted approved treatment options and do not qualify for a clinical trial.
Pointing out that use of intravenous (IV) aspirin is not
uncommon in other parts of continental Europe, Goadsby added that
his team's results "show it could be a cost-effective, safe and
easy-to-use treatment for people hospitalized for headache or
To explore the IV aspirin treatment option, the study authors
focused on 168 patients (including 117 women) between the ages of
18 and 75 who had been hospitalized for severe headaches or
migraines. All were given 1 gram of aspirin via a drip, for an
average of five doses.
Most of the patients had been diagnosed with a migraine, and
almost all were also diagnosed with a "chronic daily headache,"
meaning that they had suffered from a headache for at least 15 days
out of each of the prior three months.
All of the patients knew they were being treated with aspirin.
And each study participant kept a pain diary during the process,
rating pain on a 10-point scale ranging from mild to moderate to
The researchers found that in more than 25 percent of the
treatments, the IV aspirin caused pain to drop down a full
category, namely from severe to moderate, moderate to mild, or mild
to no headache.
About 40 percent of treatments had a "moderate effect" on
participants' pain levels, the findings showed.
Side effects from the treatment included heartburn, nausea,
vomiting, bleeding, worsening of asthma, kidney impairment and
"Our findings warrant more research into the use of IV aspirin for severe headache or migraine," Goadsby stated in the news release.
Although Goadsby noted that prior research had similarly
illustrated the apparent benefits of IV aspirin by comparing pain
levels against a second pool of patients who did not get the
treatment, Dr. Carl Stafstrom, a professor of neurology and
pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, pointed out that
the current effort did not do so.
"And certainly I would want to see this approach tested with such a 'control group' to make sure that the treatment is truly safe as well as effective," Stafstrom cautioned.
"But it's an encouraging response," he added. "And there's certainly a need for new and improved treatment modalities for acute headaches among hospitalized patients. So I would say that any new treatment is welcome. But this needs more exploration."
For more on migraine and headache treatment, visit the
American Academy of Family Physicians.
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