What is ergotamine? Is it better than Imitrex for acute migraine treatment?
Ergotamine is in a group of drugs called the ergot alkaloids and has been available for many years for the acute treatment of migraine & cluster headache attacks. It acts by constricting blood vessels. Some forms of ergotamine tablets are combined with caffeine, e.g. Cafergot, and others are ergotamine by itself, e.g. Ergomar sublingual tablets. This category of acute headache medication should not be used in patients with coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, high blood pressure, or in pregnancy or breast-feeding. Side-effects include elevation in heart rate & blood pressure, shakiness, and peripheral coldness in hand & feet due to the vasoconstriction. Ergomar comes in as a sublingual tablet so can be convenient for those with nausea and/or needing fast relief. The 2 mg tablet gets placed under the tongue where it dissolves; the dose can be repeated every 30 minutes to maximum of 3 tablets in 24 hours. For some patients, ergotamine may work better than Imitrex or other triptans. If you are interested in seeing if ergotamine is appropriate for your headaches, please call our office to make an appointment.