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Electro convulsive therapy: Modification of its effect on the autonomic nervous system using anti-cholinergic drugs

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The antidepressant efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is correlated to the quality of the seizure as measured by EEG but has also been linked to the magnitude of changes in hemodynamic variables. Muscarinic receptor antagonists are frequently used in the treatment, and are known to affect the hemodynamic response. We hypothesized that atropine and glycopyrrolate alter the hemodynamic and autonomic hormonal response to ECT. In a randomized, cross-over study design 23 patients received either atropine, glycopyrrolate or placebo before ECT. Hemodynamic variable, EEG and EMG, and blood adrenaline, noradrenaline and pancreatic polypeptide was determined. No geriatric patients were included. Hemodynamic changes with ECT can be divided into three phases: Drop in blood pressure and pulse rate in 1st post-stimulus phase was less when using 1 mg atropine. In 2nd post-stimulus phase atropine gave a higher systolic blood pressure. No differences were seen in hormone levels after ECT in the three interventions. A significant longer tonic clonic seizure was seen in the glycopyrrolate group and a tendency of the same was seen with atropine. The study found that the changes in hemodynamic variables induced by ECT can be altered by concomitant administration of muscarinic receptor antagonist.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychiatry Research
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2019

ID: 55757445