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Press Releases

Holy Name Medical Center Treats Migraine Headaches at Dedicated Center

Date: 5/29/2013

Children, adolescents and adults find relief with infused medications

Holy Name Medical Center has established a Headache Treatment Program for the care of adults, adolescents and children who suffer from intractable migraine headaches, and for whom conventional methods of therapy have failed. Holy Name neurologist James Charles,  MD, FAAN, FAHS, is medical director of the Headache Treatment Program, and is certified in headache medicine by the United Council of Neurologic Subspecialties.

Under the direction of staff neurologists, intravenous medications are administered on an outpatient basis by nursing staff specially trained in the field of headache medicine to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness. Children and teens are treated on the Medical Center's pediatric and young adult floor; adults are treated in the adult infusion center. Most patients require one visit; others may need repetitive, daily treatment for up to three days. Holy Name is the only facility in New Jersey offering infusion therapies to intractable headache patients of all ages.

Early intervention can re-set the brain's headache mechanism

"Studies have demonstrated that, with early intervention, as soon as the patient is identified and that patient is placed onto an appropriate treatment program, the transformation to the malignant, disabling forms of migraine can be prevented," explains Dr. Charles.  "This is a biological disease that is often genetic. A migraine attack lowers the threshold for more brain attacks. More brain attacks cause anatomic and functional alterations of the brain, setting the stage for more frequent and debilitating migraine headaches."

According to Dr. Charles, infusion therapy is highly effective for patients with:
  • chronic migraines with and without medication overuse, who have failed multiple treatments to prevent or stop migraine symptoms, and who are disabled by their headaches but do not require or desire inpatient treatment
  • migraine headaches lasting longer than 72 hours and that do not respond to conventional medications
  • acute migraine attacks that last fewer than 72 hours, are debilitating, and not responsive to self-administered medications
  • prolonged aura
  • cluster headache exacerbation
  • new, daily persistent headache
"While most patients experience relief after an outpatient treatment, continues Dr. Charles, "there are those whose headache attack will not terminate after days and weeks, and there are some chronic migraine patients whose headaches do not respond to oral medications.  The Headache Treatment Program at Holy Name is designed for such patients. Children, teenagers, and adults are treated with the appropriate medications to break the vicious headache cycle, and leave our infusion center feeling better. The long-term goal is to reset the brain 's neurochemistry so that, in conjunction with targeted outpatient treatment, patients can go from frequent severe headaches to minimal headaches."

"Lowering the burden of migraine starts with educating the public, especially parents and teachers," notes Dr. Charles. "It is a misconception that an acute headache with nausea, vomiting, and the need for bed rest is due to conditions such as sinusitis, eyestrain or dental problems."

Facts & Stats About Migraine Headache
  • The World Health Organization has placed migraine in the top 20 group of most disabling diseases of the world.
  • In the United States, there are 28 million people over the age of 12 who suffer with migraines.
  • In the US, there are eight million children under the age of 12 who suffer with migraines.
  • Thirty percent of migraine sufferers never see a doctor because they have low-frequency intermittent headaches, experience occasional headaches, and do not require medical assistance.
  • Seventy percent of migraine sufferers fall into one of two categories: About 40% will have intermediate to high-frequency migraine attacks. The remaining 30% will transform to chronic migraine which is defined as more than 15 headache days per month.
  • Chronic migraine patients (adults and children) have decreased academic performance, impaired work productivity, and can become socially withdrawn.
For more information about migraine headache or the Headache Treatment Program at Holy Name Medical Center, patients may contact Holy Name's Call Center at 1-877-HOLY-NAME.