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Neurology. 2002 Jan 8;58(1):130-3.

Cerebral vasoconstriction and stroke after use of serotonergic drugs.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is a potent vasoconstrictor amine. The authors report three patients who developed thunderclap headache, reversible cerebral arterial vasoconstriction, and ischemic strokes (i.e., the Call-Fleming syndrome). The only cause for vasoconstriction was recent exposure to serotonergic drugs in all patients, and to pseudoephedrine in one patient. These cases, and the literature, suggest that the use of serotonin-enhancing drugs can precipitate a cerebrovascular syndrome due to reversible, multifocal arterial narrowing.

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