Research Article

International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 757-765

First online:

Frequency of use of QT-interval prolonging drugs in psychiatry in Belgium

  • Eline VandaelAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, KU Leuven – University of Leuven Email author 
  • , Thomas MarynissenAffiliated withDepartment of Cardiovascular Sciences, KU Leuven – University of LeuvenCardiology, University Hospitals Leuven
  • , Johan ReyntensAffiliated withSint-Jan Hospital
  • , Isabel SprietAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, KU Leuven – University of LeuvenPharmacy Department, University Hospitals Leuven
  • , Joris VandenbergheAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosciences, KU Leuven – University of LeuvenPsychiatry, University Hospitals Leuven
  • , Rik WillemsAffiliated withDepartment of Cardiovascular Sciences, KU Leuven – University of LeuvenCardiology, University Hospitals Leuven
  • , Veerle FoulonAffiliated withDepartment of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, KU Leuven – University of Leuven

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Abstract

Introduction Drug-induced QT-prolongation is an established risk factor for Torsade de pointes and sudden cardiac death. The list of QT-prolonging drugs is extensive and includes many drugs commonly used in psychiatry. Aim In this study we performed a cross-sectional analysis of medication profiles to assess the prevalence of drug interactions potentially leading to QT-prolongation. Setting 6 psychiatric hospitals in Flanders, Belgium. Methods For each patient, the full medication list was screened for the presence of interactions, with special attention to those with an increased risk for QT-prolongation. Current practice on QT monitoring and prevention of drug-induced arrhythmia was assessed. Main outcome measure Number of drug interactions with risk of QT-prolongation. Results 592 patients (46 % female; mean age 55.7 ± 17.1 years) were included in the analysis. 113 QT-prolonging interactions were identified in 43 patients (7.3 %). QT-prolonging interactions occurred most frequently with antidepressants (n = 102) and antipsychotics (n = 100). The precautions and follow-up provided by the different institutions when combining QT-prolonging drugs were very diverse. Conclusion Drug combinations that are associated with QT-prolongation are frequently used in the chronic psychiatric setting. Persistent efforts should be undertaken to provide caregivers with clear guidelines on how to use these drugs in a responsible and safe way.

Keywords

Antidepressants Antipsychotics Belgium Drug-induced QT-prolongation Drug interactions Psychiatry Torsade de pointes