I often had to battle with my little sister’s migraines since she was 4 years old. Seeing her suffer during play time, at home and in the hospital made me very unhappy and I wished we could switch places.
When her meds did not seem to work for her, I would place a cold towel over head and make sure her room was quiet, in order to make her feel comfortable. Other techniques we could use were massaging her scalp to reduce the physical stress brought forth by migraines and reducing her intake of migraine food triggers.
Effects and impact of migraines
In America migraines affect 1 in every 10 people, translating to over 35 million sufferers experiencing at least 1 migraine per month. The biggest risk group includes, women, lower income groups, Caucasians and folks between the ages of 35-55.
Social media has increased depression rates in America with emergence of popular drug culture led by celebrities abusing opioids. This leads to addition, anxiety and even celebrity deaths from overdoses.
In terms of the effect on the economy migraines account for losses amounting to close to $18billion. Migraines directly cause reduced work productivity, lost wages and missed work.
American Disability Act covers migraines under the definition of “a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
Disability is determined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) through their screening procedures and regulations. Additionally as a migraine sets in you miss out on family, social, leisure activities as well as quality of life.
Causes of Migraines
Now as adults, the migraines my sister used to have not quite stopped but their severity have improved. Especially when it comes to mood, irritability and overall well-being. Migraines are thought to be caused by inflammation of blood vessels.
The Migraines you often have can as well be caused by brain chemicals known as serotonin. Serotonin activates a protein known as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) that leads to you getting a migraine episode.
There are various genetic and environmental factors that make individuals susceptible to migraines. However there hasn’t yet enough evidence to pinpoint the exact causes of migraines and how they affect you and me.
Although the causes of migraines have not been precisely known to scientists, there are drugs that I came across that you could use to prevent them. The new drugs may potentially help one billion people like my sister overcome migraines before they even start.
New Ground breaking research
Preventative therapy has taken a step up in preventive steps in fight against migraines. New drugs have been developed by researchers to stop migraines before they even started. Here are some groundbreaking new generation drugs that have been developed by researchers.
New Magic drug
In early 2018 the FDA approved a new drug that manufacturer claimed could prevent all types of migraines. The new drug called Aimovig was developed by the biopharmaceutical company Amgen which has headquarters in California.
During the launch, executive vice-president of research Sean.E. Harper said “The FDA approval of Aimovig represents a long-awaited and important therapeutic development for patients and their physicians who are in need of additional treatment options for the prevention of migraine.”
Aimovig’s clinical trials showed that the drug reduced the number of migraine days by half of treated patients after 3 months.
Aimovig is self-administered and retails at $575 monthly, ($6,900 per year) 70 or 140 mg single-use prefilled SureClick® autoinjector(s). The manufacturer termed the price of Aimovig “reflects the value it brings to patients and society, including the financial impact on sufferers, caregivers and employers, while also factoring in critical issues such as patient affordability, and fair and timely access.”
Amgen partners with insurance companies in a program known as the Aimovig Copay Program. The program reduces out-of-pocket costs to as little as $5 per month for insured patients.
After the approval of Aimovig, Israeli pharmaceutical firm Teva are next in line waiting for FDA approval for their new drug. You will be able to get the drug called fremanezmab probably early 2019 having met all the FDA guidelines.
Hot on their heels of Teva are Lilly with their drug galcanezumab which has shown to prevent chronic migraines. You will be able to get this drug after FDA approval which is expected to be in late 2019.
Existing preventive therapies
You have probably come across some of these drugs in stores because they have been used to treat and prevent onset of migraines. These drugs are prescribed by doctors depending on your condition.
Some of the most popular migraine prevention therapies include the following:
- Administering Beta-blockers
- Use of antiseizure medicines
- Use of antidepressants (tricyclic)
- Replacing of hormones through therapy
- Use of Calcium channel blockers.
Calcium channel blockers
Migraines are often associated with constriction of large blood vessels. Calcium blockers act as an agent of inhibition, reducing vascular resistance and arterial pressure. In simple terms calcium channel blockers stop the movement of calcium ions across the brain membrane. This in turn prevents the muscular wall of the artery from mechanical contraction which is felt as migraines. Through taking certain classes of the drug as described by your physician, the beta blockers can significantly prevent migraines even before they set in. Side effects of calcium channel blockers include:
- Low blood pressure.
- Swelling or edema.
- Chest pains.
In case you have ever come in contact with high blood pressure medicine, you may be familiar with beta blockers. Beta blockers work to open up channels in the blood flow.
Along with opening up these channels in your body, these drugs also work to block out neurotransmitters from coming into contact with beta receptors inside the body.
Precaution should be taken when taking these drugs as some side effects may include: nausea, fatigue, vomiting, dizziness, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, depression and weight gain.
Hormonal Replacement therapy
Hormonal therapy can be effective in preventing migraines associated with menopause in women. Data from a study by the women health initiative shows use of hormonal patches helps prevent migraines. One of the authors, Dr. Peter F. Schnatz said “Hormone therapy use has been on the decline since the WHI clinical trials. Newer data has brought further clarity to its safe use, especially in younger women (age < 60) who are closer to the time of menopause (within 10 years of menopause),”
Antidepressants work to inhibit neurotransmitters as well key chemical pathways in the brain. Antidepressants block pain at the source combining well to reduce depression. The most effective generic tricyclic antidepressants available in the market include amitriptyline and imipramine, venlafaxine, nortriptyline, and protriptyline.