Gabapentin is safe and effective for the prevention of severe high-altitude headache, according to findings published in the March issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.
"High-altitude headache (HAH) is a hypobaric hypoxia-induced symptom that is commonly experienced by newcomers to high-altitude areas," write Dr. Sirous Jafarian and colleagues from the University of Tehran, Iran.
The researchers examined the efficacy of gabapentin in the prevention of HAH in a study involving 204 unacclimatized guests at the Tochal Mountain Hotel Clinic, which is located at an altitude of 3500 m above sea level. The subjects were randomly assigned to receive 600 mg of gabapentin or identical placebo.
The overall incidence of HAH was 43.1% in gabapentin-treated subjects and 54.9% placebo-treated individuals -- not a significant difference (p = 0.09).
However, subjects treated with gabapentin had a lower incidence of moderate/severe HAH compared to those treated with placebo (26.5% versus 41.2%, respectively; p = 0.03).
The most common adverse effect was somnolence, which was more prevalent among gabapentin-treated patients. Dizziness, fatigue, and gastrointestinal adverse events did not differ between the groups.
"Given the efficacy of gabapentin in HAH prevention and its satisfactory tolerability, it could be considered as an additional agent in the management of individuals who are a candidate for prophylaxis at high altitudes," Dr. Jafarian's team concludes.
Source: Reuters Health