Researchers in the Netherlands found that some migraine medications cause the coronary arteries (the blood vessels feeding the heart) to contract. Narrowing of the coronary arteries caused by heart disease may result in chest pain or even heart attacks in an individual taking certain migraine medications.
The research, published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association (July 7, 1998) studied arteries from organ donors, measuring each artery’s ability to contract and relax. They then tested each drug’s effect on the arteries. The drugs tested included older drugs such as ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, methysergide and its metabolite methylergometrine as well as newer drugs such as sumatriptan, naratriptan, zolmitriptan and rizatriptan. The drugs cause constriction of arteries in the head, to stop the headache. Unfortunately, the drugs also cause the coronary arteries to constrict.