Aspirin with or without an antiemetic for acute migraine headaches in adults.
Kirthi V., Derry S., Moore RA., McQuay HJ.
BACKGROUND: Migraine is a common, disabling condition and a burden for the individual, health services and society. Many sufferers choose not to, or are unable to, seek professional help and rely on over-the-counter analgesics. Co-therapy with an antiemetic should help to reduce nausea and vomiting commonly associated with migraine headaches. OBJECTIVES: To determine the efficacy and tolerability of aspirin, alone or in combination with an antiemetic, compared to placebo and other active interventions in the treatment of acute migraine headaches in adults. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched Cochrane CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Oxford Pain Relief Database for studies through 10 March 2010. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised, double-blind, placebo- or active-controlled studies using aspirin to treat a discrete migraine headache episode, with at least 10 participants per treatment arm. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Numbers of participants achieving each outcome were used to calculate relative risk and numbers needed to treat (NNT) or harm (NNH) compared to placebo or other active treatment. MAIN RESULTS: Thirteen studies (4222 participants) compared aspirin 900 mg or 1000 mg, alone or in combination with metoclopramide 10 mg, with placebo or other active comparators, mainly sumatriptan 50 mg or 100 mg. For all efficacy outcomes, all active treatments were superior to placebo, with NNTs of 8.1, 4.9 and 6.6 for 2-hour pain-free, 2-hour headache relief, and 24-hour headache relief with aspirin alone versus placebo, and 8.8, 3.3 and 6.2 with aspirin plus metoclopramide versus placebo. Sumatriptan 50 mg did not differ from aspirin alone for 2-hour pain-free and headache relief, while sumatriptan 100 mg was better than the combination of aspirin plus metoclopramide for 2-hour pain-free, but not headache relief; there were no data for 24-hour headache relief.Associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia were reduced with aspirin compared with placebo, with additional metoclopramide significantly reducing nausea (P < 0.00006) and vomiting (P = 0.002) compared with aspirin alone.Fewer participants needed rescue medication with aspirin than with placebo. Adverse events were mostly mild and transient, occurring slightly more often with aspirin than placebo. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Aspirin 1000 mg is an effective treatment for acute migraine headaches, similar to sumatriptan 50 mg or 100 mg. Addition of metoclopramide 10 mg improves relief of nausea and vomiting. Adverse events were mainly mild and transient, and were slightly more common with aspirin than placebo, but less common than with sumatriptan 100 mg.