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Caffeine/ergotamine (trade name Cafergot) is the proprietary name of a medication consisting of ergotamine tartrate and caffeine. This combination is used for the treatment of vascular headaches, such as migraine headache.
Correct timing of use is important. Cafergot is an abortive headache treatment, which prevents the development of the headache, rather than a treatment for an established headache. The medication should be administered at the first sign of headache.
There exist some limitations as to the maximum number of tablets that can be taken per day per week. Different sources of drug information may carry different information, and patients are encouraged to ask their pharmacist or prescriber about such details.
Cafergot is no longer available as a generic drug.
Mechanism of action
The causes of migraine are not fully understood, but dilation of blood vessels in the brain may play a part in causing the headache pain. Ergotamine tartrate and caffeine are both vasoconstrictors, substances which act to constrict blood vessels.
Because the vasoconstrictive effects of ergotamine and caffeine are not selective for the brain, adverse effects due to systemic vasoconstriction can occur. Cold feet or hands, angina pectoris or dizziness are some examples.
- Diener HC, Jansen JP, Reches A, Pascual J, Pitei D, Steiner TJ (2002). "Efficacy, tolerability and safety of oral eletriptan and ergotamine plus caffeine (Cafergot) in the acute treatment of migraine: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled comparison". Eur. Neurol. 47 (2): 99–107. doi:10.1159/000047960. PMID 11844898.