Cephalalgia, Ahead of Print.
IntroductionMigraine and vasovagal syncope are comorbid conditions that may share part of their pathophysiology through autonomic control of the systemic circulation. Nitroglycerin can trigger both syncope and migraine attacks, suggesting enhanced systemic sensitivity in migraine. We aimed to determine the cardiovascular responses to nitroglycerin in migraine.MethodsIn 16 women with migraine without aura and 10 age- and gender-matched controls without headache, intravenous nitroglycerin (0.5 µg·kg−1·min−1) was administered. Finger photoplethysmography continuously assessed cardiovascular parameters (mean arterial pressure, heart rate, cardiac output, stroke volume and total peripheral resistance) before, during and after nitroglycerin infusion.ResultsNitroglycerin provoked a migraine-like attack in 13/16 (81.2%) migraineurs but not in controls (p = .0001). No syncope was provoked. Migraineurs who later developed a migraine-like attack showed different responses in all parameters vs. controls (all p < .001): The decreases in cardiac output and stroke volume were more rapid and longer lasting, heart rate increased, mean arterial pressure and total peripheral resistance were higher and decreased steeply after an initial increase.DiscussionMigraineurs who developed a migraine-like attack in response to nitroglycerin showed stronger systemic cardiovascular responses compared to non-headache controls. The stronger systemic cardiovascular responses in migraine suggest increased systemic sensitivity to vasodilators, possibly due to insufficient autonomic compensatory mechanisms.

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