The risk of QTc-interval prolongation in COVID-19 patients treated with chloroquine

Link to article at PubMed

Sinkeler FS, et al. Neth Heart J 2020.


BACKGROUND: Chloroquine, a quinolone antimalarial drug, is known to potentially inhibit pH-dependent viral replication of the SARS-CoV‑2 infection. Therefore, chloroquine is considered as a treatment option for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Chloroquine is known for prolonging the QT interval, but limited data are available on the extent of this QT-prolonging effect.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the QTc-prolonging potential of chloroquine in COVID-19 patients and to evaluate whether this prolongation increases with the cumulative dose of chloroquine and is associated with the peak plasma concentration of chloroquine. Furthermore, the number of patients who prematurely discontinued treatment or had an adjustment in dose due to QTc-interval prolongation was established.

METHODS: A retrospective, observational study was performed in patients aged over 18 years, hospitalised for a suspected or proven infection with COVID-19, and therefore treated with chloroquine, with a baseline electrocardiogram (ECG) performed prior to the start of treatment and at least one ECG after starting the treatment.

RESULTS: In total, 397 patients were included. The mean increase in QTc interval throughout the treatment with chloroquine was 33 ms. Nineteen out of 344 patients unnecessarily had their treatment prematurely discontinued or adjusted due to a prolonged QTc interval based on the computerised interpretation of the ECG.

CONCLUSION: Chloroquine treatment in COVID-19 patients gradually increased the QTc interval. Due to a significant number of overestimated QTc intervals by computer analysis, it is advisable to measure the QTc interval manually before adjusting the dose or withdrawing this potentially beneficial medication.

PMID:32648153 | DOI:10.1007/s12471-020-01462-6

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