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Drugs that Lower BP also Relieve Headaches

Blood-pressuring lowering medications can prevent a significant proportion of headaches, according to a study published in the October issue of Circulation.

While the prevailing view has been that there is no link between hypertension and headache or that headaches result from the anxiety of being told one has “hypertension,” intervention studies have suggested that blood pressure-lowering drugs prevent headache, wrote the authors, led by Malcolm Law, FRCP, a professor of epidemiology at Barts and the London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, England. Two of the researchers, Dr. Law and Nicholas Wald, FRS, have a patent interest in the Polypill, as disclosed in the study.

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 94 randomized placebo-controlled trials of four classes of blood pressure-lowering drugs — thiazides, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and angiotensin II receptor antagonists — that were published from 1966 to 2001. These studies included 17,641 participants who were given blood pressure-lowering drugs and 6,603 who were given a placebo, and treatment lowered systolic blood pressure by 9.4 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 5.5 mm Hg, on average.

In the studies, one-third fewer people on average reported headache in the treatment groups (8%) compared with the placebo groups (12.4%), and each of the four classes of drugs reduced headache prevalence. Approximately one in 30 treated persons benefited by having headache prevented.

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AHRQ Announces First Phase of Program on Health Care Interventions

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced the first phase of research reviews to be performed under its new Effective Health Care Program, which will include work under Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The goals of Section 1013 are to develop evidence on the comparative effectiveness of different treatments and appropriate clinical approaches to difficult health problems.

To achieve these goals, AHRQ will support projects to review, synthesize, and translate scientific evidence, as well as identify important issues for which existing evidence is insufficient to make decisions about care.

The agency's Evidence-Based Practice Centers will conduct the reviews, and the Center at Oregon Health Science University and Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research will serve as methodology resource centers.

The reviews will take seven to 12 months to complete and were expected to be available this month. Initial topics will address the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease, the benefits and safety of analgesics for arthritis, off-label use of some antipsychotic medications, oral medications for diabetes, and medications for depression.

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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