What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Beta Blockers for a Migraine?

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox
Beta blockers.
Beta blockers.

Patients may be prescribed beta blockers for a migraine if they have a history of severe migraines. Beta blockers can effectively prevent migraine headaches, though they can cause a number of other side effects for the patient. In many cases, these effects can be extreme and can include a significant decrease in blood pressure and heart rate. These secondary effects should be considered carefully before a patient decides to take this medication as a preventative for migraines.

People who experience recurring migraines may need to take prophylactic medication daily.
People who experience recurring migraines may need to take prophylactic medication daily.

One of the cons of taking beta blockers for a migraine is that the medication needs to be taken daily to be effective. Patients must get used to taking beta blockers once or twice a day and need to keep enough medication on hand to get them through weekends and holidays, because it can be dangerous to stop taking beta blockers suddenly. Patients who are traveling will also need to bring enough medicine along so they don’t run out while away from their pharmacy. There also can be a considerable expense to taking beta blockers, because these drugs need to be taken long-term and may not be covered by a patient’s insurance.

In some cases, beta blockers used to treat migraines can cause low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat.
In some cases, beta blockers used to treat migraines can cause low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat.

Taking beta blockers for a migraine is only an effective treatment while the patient is on the medication. Discontinuing the drug will cause the underlying problems to resurface and the migraines to return, so patients should carefully consider whether the migraines are severe and debilitating enough that they wish to be on beta blockers for the rest of their lives. These medications can also affect other systems of the body, and patients with certain medical conditions or those who are taking certain medications may experience adverse effects from the use of beta blockers for a migraine.

Beta blockers may prevent migraines from occurring.
Beta blockers may prevent migraines from occurring.

One of the main benefits of taking beta blockers for a migraine is that the medication lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Patients with a history of high blood pressure can find relief from this condition as well as relief from migraines, effectively treating two conditions with the same medication. Beta blockers make the heart beat more regularly, as well, which can correct some minor heart arrhythmias that may be present.

Taking beta blockers for a migraine will also benefit a patient by preventing most migraines from occurring. Many medications for migraines mask the symptoms of the headache, whereas beta blockers can control the underlying cause of the disorder. Though it is not the case for every patient, many migraine sufferers who take beta blockers can significantly reduce the number of migraines they get each month.

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    • Beta blockers.
      Beta blockers.
    • People who experience recurring migraines may need to take prophylactic medication daily.
      People who experience recurring migraines may need to take prophylactic medication daily.
    • In some cases, beta blockers used to treat migraines can cause low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat.
      In some cases, beta blockers used to treat migraines can cause low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat.
    • Beta blockers may prevent migraines from occurring.
      Beta blockers may prevent migraines from occurring.