January 29, 2013
Antidepressant heart rhythm link shouldn’t be cause for
Research has linked some antidepressants to a long QT
interval which can increase the risk of a serious heart rhythm
Scientists in America have shown a link
between two antidepressant drugs called citalopram and
escitalopram and a long QT interval on some people’s
electrocardiograms (ECGs). A long QT interval is associated with an
increased risk of serious heart rhythm abnormalities.
Looking at the health records of more than
38,000 adults, researchers found nearly one in five patients
treated with these antidepressants who underwent an ECG had an
abnormal QT interval.
People taking these drugs shouldn’t be alarmed and shouldn’t stop taking their medication without speaking to their doctor
June Davison, our Senior
Cardiac Nurse, said: “Having a long QT interval can
potentially increase the risk of a serious abnormal heart rhythm.
However, as these abnormal rhythms are very rare
the potential benefits in treating depression would exceed the risk
for most patients.
“The effect of these drugs on the QT interval
has been known for a while and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare
products Regulatory Agency issued safety advice
about this issue in 2011. This included recommendations about new
maximum daily doses and information about when it’s not advisable
to prescribe the drug.
“People taking these drugs shouldn’t
be alarmed and shouldn’t stop taking their medication
without speaking to their doctor. If you’ve got any concerns, speak
to your GP or pharmacist.”
We're currently funding important research at the University of
Nottingham that will help improve understanding of long QT
syndrome so that better treatments can be developed in the
The research into antidepressants and QT
intervals was published in the British Medical