Papaverine relaxes many smooth muscles of the body, especially those of the blood vessels. Its therapeutic value has been demonstrated in arterial embolism, in which the drug increases collateral circulation by acting on reflexly constricted vascular channels. Similar therapeutic effect has recently been claimed from its use in angina pectoris and myocardial infarction. Indeed, the experimental and clinical observations of Katz1 would indicate that papaverine enhances coronary blood flow in these disease states.
The action of papaverine on disturbances of the cerebral circulation has not thus far been reported. Embolism of the cerebral vessels would appear to be an indication for its use. The possible benefit from this drug in the therapy of angiospastic cerebral phenomena commonly observed in the course of hypertensive disease, acute glomerulonephritis, eclampsia gravidarum and lead poisoning has attracted the interest of the writers.
The cerebral manifestations encountered in these conditions vary widely. In the
RUSSEK HI, ZOHMAN BL. PAPAVERINE IN CEREBRAL ANGIOSPASM (VASCULAR ENCEPHALOPATHY). JAMA. 1948;136(14):930-932. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02890310022007