Objectives: The purpose of our study was to determine whether the serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline hydrochloride could prevent neurocardiogenic syncope in children and adolescents resistant to or intolerant of other therapies.
Background: The serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine hydrochloride has been reported to be effective in preventing neurocardiogenic syncope in adults.
Methods: Seventeen consecutive young patients (mean age 15 years, range 10 to 18; 7 male, 10 female) with recurrent syncope and a positive head-upright tilt table test, and in whom standard therapies (fludrocortisone, transdermal scopolamine, beta-adrenergic blocking agents, disopyramide) were ineffectual, poorly tolerated or contraindicated, were referred for study. Sertraline was administered orally at 50 mg daily for 4 to 6 weeks. A head-upright tilt table test was then reperformed, and the clinical effect was noted.
Results: Three patients (18%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1 to 44) were intolerant of the drug, and it was discontinued. Nine patients became asymptomatic and tilt negative (53%, 95% CI 26 to 76), and five remained tilt positive (36%, 95% CI 15 to 65). Over a mean follow-up period of 12 +/- 5 months, the tilt-negative patients remained symptom free while taking sertraline.
Conclusions: The serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline hydrochloride can be effective in preventing recurrent neurocardiogenic syncope in selected patients unresponsive to or intolerant of other therapeutic modalities.