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How effectively do ACE inhibitors and ARBs prevent migraines?

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Overall both drugs have a significant effect on number of headaches

Among all ACE inhibitor and ARB trials in the review, a network meta-analysis (designed to compare interventions never studied head-to-head) could be performed only on candesartan, which had a small effect size on headache frequency relative to placebo (2 trials, 118 patients; standardized mean difference [SMD]= −0.33; 95% CI, −0.59 to −0.7).1 (An SMD of 0.2 is considered small, 0.6 moderate, and 1.2 large). Combining data from all ACE inhibitor and ARB trials together in a standard meta-analysis yielded a large effect size on number of headaches per month compared with placebo (6 trials, 351 patients; SMD= −1.12; 95% CI, −1.97 to −0.27).1


In 2012, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society published guidelines on pharmacologic treatment for episodic migraine prevention in adults.4 The guidelines stated that lisinopril and candesartan were “possibly effective” for migraine prevention (level C recommendation based on a single lower-quality randomized clinical trial). They further advised clinicians to be “mindful of comorbid and coexistent conditions in patients with migraine to maximize potential treatment efficacy.”

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