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Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.


It is possible that the main title of the report Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Drug-Induced Movement Disorder
  • Neuroleptic-Induced Acute Dystonia
  • Hyperthermia

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening reaction to the use of almost any of a group of antipsychotic drugs or major tranquilizers (neuroleptics). These drugs are commonly prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia and other neurological, mental, or emotional disorders. Several of the more commonly prescribed neuroleptics include thioridazine, haloperidol, chlorpromazine, fluphenazine and perphenazine.

The syndrome is characterized by high fever, stiffness of the muscles, altered mental status (paranoid behavior), and autonomic dysfunction. Autonomic dysfunction alludes to defective operations of the components of the involuntary (autonomic) nervous system, leading to wide swings of blood pressure, excessive sweating and excessive secretion of saliva.

A genetic basis for the disorder is suspected but not proven. It does appear to be clear that a defect in the receptors to dopamine (dopamine D2 receptor antagonism) is an important contributor to the cause of neuroleptic malignant syndrome.


Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States

1 North Main St

PO Box 1069

Sherburne, NY 13460


Tel: (607)674-7901

Fax: (607)674-7910



North American Malignant Hyperthermia Registry

Penn State University

Dept. of Anesthesiology

P.O. Box 850

Hershey, PA 17033-0850


Tel: (412)692-6390

Fax: (412)692-8658

Tel: (888)274-7899



National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse

1211 Chestnut Street

Suite 1207

Philadelphia, PA 19107-6312


Tel: (215)751-1810

Fax: (215)636-6312

Tel: (800)553-4539



Mental Health America

2000 N. Beauregard Street, 6th Floor

Alexandria, VA 22314-2971


Tel: (703)684-7722

Fax: (703)684-5968

Tel: (800)969-6642

TDD: (800)433-5959



National Alliance on Mental Illness

3803 N. Fairfax Drive

Suite 100

Arlington, VA 22203-

Tel: (703)524-7600

Fax: (703)524-9094

Tel: (800)999-6264

TDD: (703)516-7227



NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Health Science Writing, Press and Dissemination Branch

6001 Executive Boulevard

Room 8184, MSC 9663

Bethesda, MD 20892-9663

Tel: (301)443-4513

Fax: (301)443-4279

Tel: (866)615-6464

TDD: (301)443-8431



MedicAlert Foundation International

2323 Colorado Avenue

Turlock, CA 95382


Tel: (209)669-2401

Fax: (209)669-2456

Tel: (888)633-4298



For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated:  5/1/2008

Copyright  1990, 1995, 2004 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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