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, 71 (2), 467-71

Myotonia as a Side Effect of Diuretic Action

Myotonia as a Side Effect of Diuretic Action

A H Bretag et al. Br J Pharmacol.


1. Commonly used loop diuretics produce side effects in man which are similar to chemically induced myotonia. These diuretics have structural affinity with known myotonic agents. 2. We have observed EMG myotonia in vivo in leg muscles of rats treated with intravenous frusemide. 3. In the presence of several different diuretics, rat isolated diaphragm, soleus and extensor digitorum longus muscles as well as frog sartorius muscles produce typically myotonic contractions with relaxation times up to several seconds. 4. Intracellular recording of action potentials from diuretic-treated muscles reveals long lasting after-discharges following a brief electrical stimulus, again typical of chemically induced myotonia. 5. Having demonstrated a myotonic action of several diuretics we suggest a need for caution in using these drugs in persons with hereditary myotonia and a need to be aware of possible provocation of myotonia in subclinical cases. Myopathies and neuropathies which are known to result from chronic exposure to myotonic agents also need to be considered. 6. In our study, the diuretic, acetazolamide, unmasked subthreshold myotonia. This seems to be at variance with reports of its usefulness in the treatment of myotonia. 7. Diuretics should probably not be employed in the treatment of herbicide intoxication where their myotonic activity would be expected to add to the known myotonic activity of the herbicide.

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