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Aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is responsible for 5% to 10% of all strokes in the United States annually and is a neurologic emergency with considerable morbidity and mortality. A common complication of aSAH is cerebral vasospasm (CVS) or narrowing of the cerebral arteries. While nearly 70% of aSAH patients will develop CVS, approximately 30% of those patients will go on to develop delayed cerebral ischemia, defined as symptomatic vasospasm or cerebral infarction demonstrated on imaging. While the pathophysiology of CVS is unclear, the prevention and treatment of this complication are a focus of ongoing research. Despite continued efforts, only one medication, nimodipine, is Food and Drug Administration approved for the improvement of neurologic outcomes by reducing the incidence and severity of ischemic deficits in patients with CVS during aSAH. This review provides nurse practitioners and the bedside nursing staff with a summary of the available literature on the pharmacologic management of CVS. It focuses on oral, intravenous, intra-arterial, and intraventricular medications available in the United States that may be utilized in the management of CVS.


Keaton S Smetana, Pamela L Buschur, Jocelyn Owusu-Guha, Casey C May. Pharmacologic Management of Cerebral Vasospasm in Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Critical care nursing quarterly. 2020 Apr/Jun;43(2):138-156

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PMID: 32084059

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