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Propranolol in the Treatment of Narcolepsy

ANTHONY KALES, M.D.; CONSTANTIN R. SOLDATOS, M.D.; ROGER CADIEUX, M.D.; EDWARD O. BIXLER, Ph.D.; TJIAUWLING TAN, M.D.; and MARTIN B. SCHARF, Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Supported in part by NIH BRS Grant 5 S07 RR05680-10.


Sleep Research and Treatment Center, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine; Hershey, Pennsylvania


Ann Intern Med. 1979;91(5):741-743. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-91-5-741
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Narcolepsy is being treated with stimulant drugs (amphetamines or methylphenidate) to control the excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks, and imipramine to manage auxiliary symptoms, particularly cataplexy (1). The potentials for tolerance and dependence with the stimulants and cardiotoxicity from imipramine underscore the need for other therapies.

In 1978, we administered propranolol to a narcoleptic patient to treat premature ventricular contractions; a detailed report has been published elsewhere (2). When a relatively low dose of propranolol reduced the frequency of narcoleptic and cataplectic attacks, we gradually increased the dose. At a daily dose of about 300 mg, the attacks were

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