Triptan-Induced Torsades de Pointes and Ventricular Fibrillation Cardiac Arrest: Case Report and Review of the Literature
Stanley E. Hill and Kirsten La
Affiliation: Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Department of Inpatient Pharmacy, 2801 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90806, USA.
Keywords: Cardiac arrest, polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, sumatriptan, torsades de pointes, thyrotoxicosis, triptan,
Migraine is a potentially debilitating neurologic disorder affecting approximately 12% of the United States
population. Sumatriptan manufacturer-provided drug information states that life threatening arrhythmias, including
ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation (VF), have been reported. A literature search revealed only seven
reported cases of ventricular arrhythmias immediately after sumatriptan administration. Twenty minutes after a 42 year
old female received sumatriptan, her femoral pulses were not palpable and the electrocardiograph (EKG) showed torsades
de pointes followed by VF. After defibrillation and one round of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the patient
regained spontaneous circulation. The patient was eventually discharged home. Despite studies concluding that
sumatriptan has minimal effects on coronary arteries, several cases of sumatriptan-associated myocardial infarction have
been documented. In addition, a small number of documented cases have reported life threatening arrhythmias and
cardiorespiratory arrest after sumatriptan administration.
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