Autonomic nervous system function was studied in 62 patients with migraine. The Valsalva maneuver, deep breathing test, sustained handgrip test, orthostatic test and spectral analysis of heart rate variability in the supine and standing positions were performed in a group of 62 patients of both sexes, aged 21 to 50 years, and in an age-matched control group of 45 healthy volunteers.
Heart rate increase during sustained handgrip was significantly reduced in the headache group, when compared to the control group, while the results of the remaining cardiovascular tests did not significantly differ between the control and headache groups. In standing patients, the integrals of middle frequency bands of amplitude spectra were smaller in patients than in controls because the increase induced by standing was smaller in migraine patients. The results in patients with migraine with aura (21 patients) and migraine without aura (41 patients) did not differ significantly from each other. The same was true for the results of the female and male patients.
It is concluded that sympathetic function is impaired in migraine patients.