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Candesartan: Just What the Doctor Ordered to Cure Your Migraines

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Sep 12, 2014 7:00:00 AM

Ongoing clinical research studies into the causes of migraines and possible treatments are revealing more options for prevention of episodes. The two major pharmaceutical strategies for the migraine condition are abortive and preventative. The former involves the use of medications that can bring quick pain relief when taken before or during a headache episode; the latter focuses on medicinal regimes that can forestall auras and triggers.


A recent study conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology suggests that a medication mostly used by patients who suffer from high blood pressure could be used to prevent migraine attacks. The drug in question is candesartan, a medication that works by controlling a certain hormone system that is tied to renal function and blood pressure.

How Candesartan Works

Pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and Takeda manufacture and market candesartan cilexetil almost exclusively as a medication to be used for the treatment of hypertension and congestive heart failure. Candesartan prevents certain substances produced by human organisms that constrict blood vessels. Essentially, candesartan promotes efficient blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body.

One of the Norwegian researchers who conducted the study on the effectiveness of candesartan to treat migraines is also a hypertensive patient. About 20 years ago, this researcher noticed that his migraine episodes were diminished after taking the medication. This accidental observation led to a clinical research study involving more than 70 migraine patients, and the results after 10 years are very promising.

Blood Pressure and Migraines

Prior to the Norwegian research study, candesartan was casually prescribed to some migraine patients. The study results suggest that this medication can be as effective as the beta blocker Inderal for the prevention of migraines. Inderal is commonly prescribed for cardiac and hypertensive conditions, but the drug's various side effects worry some patients and specialists.

Candesartan presents less possible complications than Inderal. Common side effects include:
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Inderal and other medications that are prescribed as part of a strategy to prevent migraines are also known to promote weight gain. Candesartan is not reported to cause this issue, and it will soon be available as a generic medication since its patent is running out.

Many decades ago, physicians believed that migraines were mainly vascular conditions. By the late 20th century, researchers had nearly dismissed the vascular theory in favor of brain chemistry and neurological conditions. In recent years, however, high blood pressure has been identified as a significant migraine trigger, and thus researchers have taken up the vascular angle once again.

Migraine patients who already take Inderal or other beta blockers to prevent migraine episodes might be ideal candidates for candesartan, which should be available at a lower cost once it starts being manufactured as a generic pharmaceutical product. The United States National Institutes of Health does not recommend candesartan to pregnant women.

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