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QTc prolongation in acute medical admissions: an often overlooked and potentially serious finding
  1. John Joseph Coughlan,
  2. Meghan Wafer,
  3. Gearoid Fitzgerald,
  4. Aamir Nawaz,
  5. Claire O’Brien,
  6. Richard Liston
  1. Department of Medicine, University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Joseph Coughlan, Department of Medicine, University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, Ireland; jjcoughl{at}

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QTc prolongation creates an electrophysiological environment that confers an increased risk for development of ventricular arrhythmias, in particular torsades de pointes (TdP), a form of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia. This may result in syncope or sudden cardiac death.1–5 In addition, prolonged QTc at admission has been associated with worse outcomes independent of malignant ventricular rhythms.6 Figure 1 shows an example of an ECG with a prolonged QTc of 550 ms.

Figure 1

An example of an ECG with a prolonged QTC interval, measuring 550 ms.

Numerous studies have demonstrated a high prevalence of QTc prolongation among patients admitted to the hospital in a wide variety of settings including the intensive care unit and acute psychiatric units.7 8

In our centre, we sought to determine the prevalence of QTc prolongation among patients admitted on medical take through our emergency department. We also analysed the presence or absence of drugs associated with QTc prolongation in these patients.

Our aim was to answer the following questions …

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  • Contributors All authors whose names appear on the manuscript have contributed to it sufficiently to share collective responsibility and accountability for the results. JJC was primarily responsible for drafting the article. AN,GF and MW assisted with data collection. COB and RL provided editorial feedback.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval University Hospital Kerry.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Original data are available on request.

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