Does the Initiation of Fluoxetine Postacute Stroke Result in Improved Functional Recovery? A Critically Appraised Topic

Molly G. Knox, Bart M. Demaerschalk, Sally B. Alcott, Lisa A. Marks, Dean M. Wingerchuk, Cumara B. O'Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Stroke is a leading cause of disability worldwide. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often prescribed following stroke due to high rates of depression. Interest in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use for poststroke motor and functional recovery was generated after the publication of the Fluoxetine for motor recovery after acute ischemic stroke (FLAME) trial in 2011, which showed improved motor recovery in ischemic stroke patients with moderate to severe motor deficits. The objective of this study was to critically assess current evidence regarding the use of fluoxetine compared with placebo for poststroke functional recovery. METHODS: The objective was addressed through the development of a structured critically appraised topic. This included a clinical scenario and question, literature search, critical appraisal, results, evidence summary, commentary, and clinical bottom line conclusions. Participants included consultant and resident neurologists, medical librarian, clinical epidemiologists, and content experts in the field of cerebrovascular neurology and physical medicine and rehabilitation. RESULTS: A randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial was selected for critical appraisal. This trial compared the functional outcomes of subjects poststroke receiving fluoxetine versus placebo. There was no significant difference in functional outcome measured by the Modified Rankin Scale between the 2 groups. Prespecified secondary analysis showed significantly decreased rates of depression in the fluoxetine group, but significantly increased rates of bone fracture. CONCLUSION: Among patients with stroke, early initiation of fluoxetine did not result in improved functional recovery. Lower rates of depression were observed in the fluoxetine-treated group; however these patients experienced higher rates of bone fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-115
Number of pages4
JournalThe neurologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 5 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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