Closing a Heart Hole May Help Migraines
Study Shows Migraine Relief After Fixing a Heart Abnormality Called PFO
Why Findings May Vary
In an accompanying editorial, Wilmshurst suggests that the placebo effect
may explain why the findings in the latest trial are so different from those in
The 147 MIST participants had no idea which treatment they were getting, but
the 82 patients in the latest study chose the treatment they received.
"It is possible that in patients with migraine the placebo effect from
an operative intervention might be much greater than the magnitude of placebo
effects with drug treatments," he writes.
But Wilmshurst tells WebMD that this doesn't explain why early studies
showed PFO closure to be an effective treatment for migraines. That's because
patients in these early trials had the procedure for other reasons and had no
expectations that their headaches would improve.
Several devices used for PFO closure are being marketed in the U.S., and
Wilmshurst says PFO closure is commonly performed in patients with migraines
even though it is considered experimental and the devices have not been
approved for the treatment of migraines by the FDA.
"Some people would ask if we should really be using this treatment,
since we can't say for sure that it works." he says. "I don't really
know the answer to that question."