Preventive treatment of migraine and chronic
tension headache with moclobemide

Meienberg O, Amsler F
Schweiz Rundsch Med Prax 1997 Jul 2; 86(27-28):1107-12


Tricyclic antidepressants have been used for a long time in migraine prophylaxis and in the treatment of chronic tension-type headache. Because of their relatively frequent and unpleasant side effects, however, their use cannot be recommended without reservation. The selective and reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor type A (MAO-A inhibitor), moclobemide (Aurorix), is much better tolerated and safer to use. For this reason, we began to use this substance in the prophylactic treatment of migraine and chronic tension-type headache. The obviously good efficacy in many cases prompted us to conduct a retrospective analysis of 61 headache patients treated with moclobemide. The patients, classified according to the diagnostic criteria of the International Headache Society, were treated for about 8 months on average with moclobemide. While on this therapy, 35 of the 42 migraine patients and 16 of the 17 patients with tension-type headache experienced good or very good improvement in their symptoms. In the migraine patients, the average number of monthly headache days declined from 7.8 before treatment to 1.2 at the end of treatment. In tension-type headaches, the effect occurred at the earliest 3-6 weeks and in the case of migraines at the earliest 6-8 weeks after the start of treatment. The therapeutic result was independent of any concurrent depression. Nine patients ended their treatment prematurely, seven because of side effects and two because of compliance problems. Treatment compliance, essential for the success of any long term treatment of headache, is promoted by open and detailed explanation of the treatment concept, and by medical supervision with individual adjustment of treatment. The patient should be instructed regarding the time required until the onset of action, the intended length of treatment, treatment of further headache attacks, and an appropriate lifestyle. The highly promising results with moclobemide in the prophylactic treatment of migraines and chronic tension-type headaches should be verified in a controlled study.
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