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Neurology. 1996 Jul;47(1):46-51.

Sumatriptan in clinical practice: a 2-year review of 453 migraine patients.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Leiden, The Netherlands.


The long-term and within-patient consistency of the efficacy and tolerability of subcutaneous and oral sumatriptan in migraine was studied by retrospective survey of 2 years with mailed self-administered questionnaires in our neurology outpatient clinic. Subjects were migraine patients with or without aura (N = 869). We measured long-term use of sumatriptan and within-patient consistency and change over time of headache relief, headache recurrence, and chest symptoms after sumatriptan. The questionnaire was returned by 735 (85%) patients; 453 had used sumatriptan for nearly 28,000 attacks during 25 (median) months (92% > 1 year). Sumatriptan provided headache relief, mostly within 2 hours, in 85% of patients in at least two-thirds of their attacks. Of all patients, 75% experienced (usually multiple) headache recurrences in at least some and 40% in (nearly) all attacks. Median time to recurrence was 8 to 12 hours (range 1 to 30). Recurrence of aura was reported as well. Over 2 years, efficacy of sumatriptan had waned in 18% of patients (mainly because of increase in headache recurrence) and improved in 12% (mainly because of reduction of headache recurrence or adverse events or increase of headache relief); the number of monthly doses of sumatriptan had increased in 20%, reduced in 35%, and not changed in 45% of patients. Chest symptoms occurred in up to 58% of patients in at least some and in up to 42% of patients in all attacks, causing discontinuation of sumatriptan in 10%. In total, 111 patients (25%) discontinued sumatriptan mainly because of headache recurrence, adverse events, insufficient headache relief, or high price. In most patients, the effects of sumatriptan were consistent within subjects and over time. In most patients, sumatriptan provided rapid headache relief. Multiple headache recurrence was the major limitation. Chest symptoms were frequent but usually not serious if patients were forewarned.

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