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Keywords:

  • headache;
  • migraine;
  • triptans;
  • consensus statement

Background.—Health care providers frequently cite concerns about cardiovascular safety of the triptans as a barrier to their use. In 2002, the American Headache Society convened the Triptan Cardiovascular Safety Expert Panel to evaluate the evidence on triptan-associated cardiovascular risk and to formulate consensus recommendations for making informed decisions for their use in patients with migraine.

Objective.—To summarize the evidence reviewed by the Triptan Cardiovascular Safety Expert Panel and their recommendations for the use of triptans in clinical practice.

Participants.—The Triptan Cardiovascular Safety Expert Panel was composed of a multidisciplinary group of experts in neurology, primary care, cardiology, pharmacology, women's health, and epidemiology.

Evidence and Consensus Process.—An exhaustive search of the relevant published literature was reviewed by each panel member in preparation for an open roundtable meeting. Pertinent issues (eg, cardiovascular pharmacology of triptans, epidemiology of cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular risk assessment, migraine) were presented as a prelude to group discussion and formulation of consensus conclusions and recommendations. Follow-up meetings were held by telephone.

Conclusions.—(1) Most of the data on triptans are derived from patients without known coronary artery disease. (2) Chest symptoms occurring during use of triptans are generally nonserious and are not explained by ischemia. (3) The incidence of serious cardiovascular events with triptans in both clinical trials and clinical practice appears to be extremely low. (4) The cardiovascular risk-benefit profile of triptans favors their use in the absence of contraindications.