Verapamil vs. Sertraline for Vestibular Migraine & Chronic Subjective Dizziness


  • Study type

  • Study IDs

  • Describes the nature of a clinical study. Types include:

    • Observational study — observes people and measures outcomes without affecting results.
    • Interventional study (clinical trial) — studies new tests, treatments, drugs, surgical procedures or devices.
    • Medical records research — uses historical information collected from medical records of large groups of people to study how diseases progress and which treatments and surgeries work best.
  • Site IRB
    • Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona: 12-002814
    • Rochester, Minnesota: 12-002814
    NCT ID: NCT01669304
    Sponsor Protocol Number: 12-002814

About this study

Chronic dizziness and recurrent vertigo are frequent complaints in primary and specialty medical care settings. Two common causes of these symptoms are vestibular migraine (VM) and chronic subjective dizziness (CSD), which may be seen in up to 25% of patients examined in tertiary neurotology centers. However, VM and CSD are relatively new diagnoses that have not yet been validated. Furthermore, recent research found that they co-exist 30% of the time with overlap in several features. From a clinical standpoint, this makes it difficult to diagnose and treat them well. From a research standpoint, it confounds subject selection for mechanistic investigations.

The primary goal of this study to dissect VM and CSD in order to identify the key features and clarify the diagnostic criteria of each condition. Fifty patients diagnosed with coexisting VM-CSD will be treated with either verapamil or sertraline. Based on clinical and research experience to date, verapamil is thought to have greater effect on migraine-related symptoms, whereas sertraline is thought to have greater effect on CSD-related symptoms. It is hypothesized that a differential treatment response to these two pharmacologic probes will help to tease apart the unique clinical features of VM and CSD and identify risk factors that are shared or separate between the two conditions. The different mechanisms of action of the two study medications may also shed light on the physiologic underpinnings of VM and CSD.

This project will be a 14-week, prospective, randomized, double-blind, parallel group, pharmacologic dissection trial. A 12-week treatment period will follow 2 weeks of baseline observation. Patients will chart daily headache and vestibular symptoms. VM and CSD symptoms and potential confounds such as anxiety and depression will be measured at two week intervals. Data will be analyzed for differential and shared treatment effects that align with or oppose current concepts of VM and CSD.

Participation eligibility

Participant eligibility includes age, gender, type and stage of disease, and previous treatments or health concerns. Guidelines differ from study to study, and identify who can or cannot participate. If you need assistance understanding the eligibility criteria, please contact the study team.

See eligibility criteria

Inclusion criteria

  1. Neurotologic diagnoses of both vestibular migraine and chronic subjective dizziness
  2. All other co-existing medical or psychiatric conditions are stable, and no greater than moderate severity
  3. Able to complete study assessments in person and by phone
  4. Able to travel to Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN for first and last study visits
  5. Willing to avoid pregnancy during study (abstinence or acceptable birth control)

Exclusion criteria

  1. Presence of any other active neurotologic diagnoses
  2. Medical or psychiatric conditions that would preclude or confound study drugs
  3. Use of medications or supplements that would preclude or confound study drugs
  4. Past treatment of headache or dizziness with a full trial of a calcium channel blocker or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
  5. Allergy to verapamil or sertraline

Participating Mayo Clinic locations

Study statuses change often. Please contact us for help.

Mayo Clinic Location Status Contact

Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Jeffrey Staab, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

Contact information:

Todd Schwedt M.D.


Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Jeffrey Staab, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

Contact information:

Sherrie Hanna M.A., L.P.



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