Autonomic nervous system functions were studied in 13 females with migraine without aura during headache-free intervals, using physiological, pharmacological and biochemical methods.
Heart-rate in the resting condition and blood pressure rises in the cold-face and isometric handgrip tests were higher than in controls. Normal cardiovascular responses to the Valsalva manoeuvre and to noradrenaline infusion suggest that the baroreflex arc is intact. Normal heart rate responses to the Valsalva manoeuvre, to the cold-face test and to deep breathing confirmed a normal cardiac parasympathetic function. Clonidine infusion showed a sedative and depressor effect and an inhibition of plasma NA similar to those occurring in controls, suggesting a normal central sympathetic tone. As a whole, the physiological, pharmacological and biochemical tests were consistent with a non-specific sympathetic hyperactivity, but do not confirm any impairment of the autonomic control of the cardiovascular system in migraine patients in headache-free intervals.