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Sumatriptan is a certain drug that has a sulfonamide group in it. Due to that fact the drug is a triptan sulfa. Doctors prescribe this drug when a patient is suffering from migraine headaches because the drug is excellent in relieving the symptoms of that condition. Due to the fact that more than one manufacturer of this drug exists, the patient can find it under a lot of different names like Imitrex, Imigran and Imigran recovery, apart from Sumatriptan.

Sumatriptan for migraine headaches

Sumatriptan has become clinically available in the year 1991 and it was the first triptan drug that was approved. This drug can be found in almost every developed country. However, it cannot be purchased in a drug store. The drug is only available when it is prescribed by the doctor. Tablets are not the only form in which this drug is available. The researchers have also made this drug available in form of an injection and a nasal inhaler.

When structure of Sumatriptan is considered, it is almost the same as the one of serotonin. The drug is also a 5-HT agonist and it works by making certain receptor subtypes active. These receptor subtypes are located on the cranial arteries and veins. By acting on these receptors the drug lessens the vascular inflammation which is connected to the migraine. Apart from the cranial arteries, the receptor subtypes can also be found in basilar arteries as well. Sumatriptan in form of an injection is probably the most effective as it was proved that it stops cluster headache after no longer than 15 minutes since it was injected. The injection is effective in almost 97% of all patients who come to the hospital complaining about the migraine. However, the bad thing about the injection is that the effect does not last as long as in some other forms of the drug.

Contraindications of Sumatriptan

The drug should never be used without the consultation with the doctor before it. A person who takes high doses of the drug, which are about 200 mg per day, is more prone to suffering from a certain condition called sulfhemoglobinemia. This condition is almost never seen and the main characteristic of it is the changing of the color of the blood. The blood will no longer be red and it will become greenish-black. The reason why that happens is because of the integration of sulfur into the hemoglobin molecule. However, the condition is not that serious is the patient stops taking sumatriptan. After a couple of weeks and without any additional treatment the color of the blood will return to normal.

The occurrence of sulfhemoglobinemia is not the only side effect that can happen to the patient. Serious cardiac events can occur as well. Some of these situations turned out to be fatal for the patient. All of the patients who experienced cardiac events used Imitrex in forms of either injection or tablets. The events that lead to the death of the patient were coronary artery vasospasms, transient myocardial ischemia, myocardial infarction, ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation, among others.

Controlled trials for patients who used Imitrex were conducted in order to be seen which side effect are seen most often. In addition to the participants who were on Imitrex, there was another group of participants who were on placebo drugs. Atypical sensations such as paresthesias and warm or cold sensation were reported in 4% of the placebo group and in 6% of the group of participants who were on Imitrex. The same percentage of placebo participants complained of certain pressure sensations like chest pain, while some 7% of the Imitrex group complained of these sensations. Neurological side effects like vertigo for instance were reported in 1% of the placebo group and in 2% of the participants who were on Imitrex. Fatigue was also experienced by no more than 1% of the participants who were on placebo, while 3% of the other group complained of it.

When a person comes to the hospital complaining of headaches caused by migraines, the doctor will ask him or her some questions before prescribing sumatriptan. The main reason why that is so, is because a person who has a history of cardiac, cerebrovascular or peripheral vascular syndromes should not take these tablets. Apart from these syndromes, any patient with a serious underlying cardiovascular illness should not be allowed to take these tablets. When ischemic cardiac syndromes are considered, angina pectoris of any type, every possible form of myocardial infarction and silent myocardial ischemia are all included. These are the main concerns but other ischemic syndromes are taken into consideration when the doctor decides whether to prescribe sumatriptan. In case of cerebrovascular syndromes they are not limited to only strokes and transient ischemic attacks. The doctor will prescribe sumatriptan succinate tablets only in situations when there is a clear diagnosis of migraine headaches. 

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