Transcranial magnetic stimulation as an antidepressant alternative in a patient with brugada syndrome and recurrent syncope

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Abstract

Brugada syndrome (BrS) is a common occult cause of sudden cardiac arrest in otherwise healthy-appearing adults. The pathognomonic electrocardiographic pattern may be unmasked only by certain medications, many of which are unknown. We report a case of a depressed but otherwise healthy man with an asymptomatic right bundle branch block on electrocardiography who experienced antidepressant-induced BrS and ultimately recovered with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). After an initial trial of nortriptyline, the patient's depressive symptoms improved; however, he experienced a syncopal event and was subsequently diagnosed as having BrS. Cross titration to bupropion, which had not previously been known to exacerbate BrS, was followed by another cardiac event. As a result, the patient was referred for TMS as a substitute for pharmacotherapy. After 31 TMS sessions over 8 weeks, the patient demonstrated significant improvement by subjective report and objective reduction in his Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores from 10 (moderate) to 1 (minimal). Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a Food and Drug Administration-approved nonpharmacologic treatment for depression. Given the potential lethality of BrS with known and unknown psychopharmacologic agents, providers should consider TMS as first-line therapy in this patient population. Bupropion should be added to the list of agents known to exacerbate this disease.

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Alampay, M. M., Haigney, M. C., Flanagan, M. C., Perito, R. M., Love, K. M., & Grammer, G. G. (2014). Transcranial magnetic stimulation as an antidepressant alternative in a patient with brugada syndrome and recurrent syncope. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 89(11), 1584–1587. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.08.010

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