The triptans have been marketed since the beginning of the 1990s and are medicines specifically intended to treat migraine attacks. They are available as tablets, nasal spray or a subcutaneous injectable preparation. They are effective on pain and are particularly used in the case of failure of analgesics: NSAID, paracetamol, opiates.
How do the triptans work?
The triptans stimulate specific serotonin receptors, particularly the 5-HT1B and 5-HT1D receptors. Because of this they reduce dilatation of the blood vessels in the meninges and block transmission of pain signals.
Do they have contraindications or precautions?
The triptans can cause drowsiness, gastro-intestinal problems and hot and oppressive feelings. They are contraindicated in patients with a past cardiovascular history or hypertension. It is also formally contraindicated to combine a triptan with a rye ergot derivative. This association potentiates their side-effects.
- Merck Manual, 4th edition
- Pharmacorama, website accessed on 17 July 2011
Triptans are medicines specifically used for migraine. © Phovoir