Calcium Channel Blockers for Cluster Headaches

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Calcium Channel Blockers for Cluster Headaches

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
verapamilIsoptin, Verelan

How It Works

It is not clear exactly how verapamil works to prevent cluster headaches.

Why It Is Used

Verapamil is used to prevent cluster headaches. You take it every day during a cluster cycle

How Well It Works

Verapamil works very well to prevent cluster headaches during a cluster cycle. It can also be used daily to prevent chronic cluster headaches.1

Side Effects

Usually, verapamil causes very few side effects. Verapamil may cause:

  • Constipation.
  • Orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure upon standing).
  • Water retention, such as swollen legs.
  • Fatigue.
  • Changes in or problems with the way your heart beats (heart rhythm abnormalities).

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

People who take verapamil need to be watched closely and have regular tests. Because verapamil can affect how the heart beats (its rhythm), this medicine should be used with caution in people who have problems with the electrical system that regulates the heart rate (a condition called heart block). Some research shows that all people taking this medicine should regularly have a test called an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) to make sure the heart's rhythm is still normal.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Capobianco DJ, Dodick DW (2006). Diagnosis and treatment of cluster headache. Seminars in Neurology, 26(2): 242–259.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Seymour Diamond, MD - Neurology
Specialist Medical Reviewer Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
Last Revised May 27, 2010

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