Common Drugs Linked to Stroke

Patients taking drugs such as antidepressants or migraine pills to enhance serotonin production may be at increased risk for stroke, say researchers.

In the issue of Neurology, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital report on three cases of patients who developed a condition known as Call-Fleming syndrome. Call-Fleming syndrome is characterized by seizures, neurologic deficits, severe headaches that come on suddenly, and reversible vasoconstriction (blood vessel constriction). Researchers say the only cause determined for the constriction of the blood vessels was recent exposure to serotonin-enhancing drugs.

Serotonin-enhancing drugs can include antidepressants, migraine medication, decongestants, diet pills, amphetamines and the club drug known as “ecstasy.” From this study, researchers say these types of drugs can bring on sudden, severe headaches, seizures and stroke. They say there is particular concern when these drugs are combined with other vasoactive drugs.

Researchers say the study has implications for the treatment of patients who complain of any of the mentioned symptoms, especially sudden-onset headaches. SOURCE: Neurology, 2002;58:130-133

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