Polypharmacy common among patients with headache

  • Ferrari A & al.
  • CNS Drugs
  • 11 May 2018

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Over 40% of people with primary headaches and nearly 60% of those with chronic primary headaches take multiple medications.
  • The polypharmacy rate is comparable to that of elderly patients and greater than that observed among patients with fibromyalgia.

Why this matters

  • Most study participants were young adult women.
  • Most of the medications used were for headache pain, rather than for other comorbidities.

Study design

  • Cross-sectional study of 300 patients (episodic headache, n=181; chronic headache, n=119) with headache.
  • Funding: None.

Key results

  • Overall, the average number of medications taken by patients was 4.37±2.46. 
  • Polypharmacy was seen in 40.7% of patients, and the prevalence of polypharmacy was doubled (65%) in patients with chronic headache vs those with episodic headache (P<.0001>
  • Polypharmacy rate among patients with chronic headache was equivalent to that among elderly patients (30%-40%) and higher in patients with fibromyalgia (40%).
  • Number of medications taken for acute treatment was significantly higher in patients with chronic headache (P<.05 vs those with episodic headache.>
  • Patients with chronic headache usually had more comorbidities (1 comorbidity, P<.05 comorbidities p than patients with episodic headache.>

Limitations

  • Data for the study were obtained from a secondary analysis.

Co-authored with Anand Ramanathan Pharm D  

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