Aspirin is efficacious for the treatment of acute migraine

Headache. 2005 Apr;45(4):283-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2005.05065.x.


Background: More than 50% of migraine sufferers rely on over-the-counter medications for the treatment of migraine. Along with other over-the-counter products, aspirin is considered by the US Headache Consortium to be an option for first-line migraine treatment. This study assessed the efficacy and tolerability of aspirin versus placebo for the acute treatment of a single acute attack of migraine.

Methods: This prospective, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study evaluated the efficacy of a single, 1000-mg dose of aspirin for the treatment of acute moderate to severe migraine, with or without aura. Subjects recorded all study evaluations in a diary at baseline and at .5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 24 hours after treatment. Pain was rated on a 4-point ordinal scale from no pain to severe pain. The primary efficacy end point was headache response at 2 hours. Secondary efficacy parameters included reduction of nausea, photophobia and phonophobia, pain intensity difference, and headache recurrence at 24 hours.

Results: Of 485 subjects enrolled, 409 took study medication and 401 treated a confirmed migraine attack (201 with aspirin and 200 with placebo). Baseline demographic and migraine characteristics were not significantly different between groups. The 2-hour headache response rate was 52% with aspirin versus 34% with placebo (P<.001). Aspirin was significantly more effective than placebo for pain reduction beginning 1 hour after dosing (P<.001) and continuing throughout the 6-hour evaluation period. Significantly (P<.05), more subjects were pain free from the 1-hour evaluation through the 6-hour evaluation. Of the aspirin-treated subjects, 20% were pain free at 2 hours versus only 6% of placebo-treated subjects. At 24 hours, the headache recurrence rate was 21.8% for aspirin (23 of 105 subjects) and 27.7% for placebo (19 of 68 subjects). Only 34% of aspirin-treated subjects needed rescue medication at 24 hours compared with 52% of placebo-treated subjects (P<.001). Aspirin was well tolerated, and adverse events were not significantly different between groups.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that aspirin is safe and effective for treatment of acute migraine in appropriately selected patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Aspirin / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Aspirin