Triptans and Heart Problems
A number of side effects may potentially develop with the use of triptans, and heart problems are a rare but possible complication. Although heart problems were seen in less than 1 percent of patients taking triptans in clinical trials, the risk is much higher in people with a history of heart disease or have risk factors for heart disease. Therefore, you should not take triptans if you have stable angina, unstable angina, variant angina, or coronary heart disease.
Triptans are prescription medications used to treat migraine headaches. As with any medicine, there are a number of side effects that can occur with triptans. Heart problems are one of them. For this reason, people with a history of heart problems should not take triptans. For those with risk factors for heart problems, triptans should be used with caution.
It is thought that heart problems with triptans occur because the medication can cause the blood vessels of the heart (known as coronary arteries) to spasm. This spasm narrows the blood vessel and decreases the amount of oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood that is able to get to the heart muscle.
In clinical studies that looked at both the benefits and risks of triptans, heart problems were seen in rare cases (less than 1 percent). This risk, however, was greater in those with a history of heart disease or those with risk factors for heart disease. Heart problems were often quite serious and, in some cases, even resulted in loss of life. Heart problems seen with triptans included:
- Temporary lack of oxygen to the heart (myocardial ischemia)
- A heart attack (myocardial infarction)
- Change in heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- The heart stopping (cardiac arrest).