Assessment of QTc and Risk of Torsades de Pointes in Ventricular Conduction Delay and Pacing: A Review of the Literature and Call to Action

Margo C. Funk, Kevin W. Cates, Aishwarya Rajagopalan, Chadrick E. Lane, Junyang Lou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Assessment of the heart rate–corrected QT-interval on the 12-lead electrocardiogram when prescribing medications known to increase the risk of Torsades de Pointes has become a common part of consultation-liaison psychiatry practice. Objectives: Highlighted by a patient who experienced psychiatric decompensation due to inaccurate interpretation of QTc prolongation in the setting of a wide QRS complex, we aimed to describe the approach to QTc interpretation in patients with ventricular conduction delay. Methods: We reviewed the current literature on the approach to assessment of prolonged repolarization in patients with ventricular conduction delay due to bundle branch block (BBB) and ventricular pacing. Results: Physicians of any specialty may perform initial electrocardiogram interpretation and should be proficient in the definition, recognition, and understanding of the basic pathophysiology of electrocardiographic abnormalities. We discuss current approaches to assessment of the QT-interval in patients with a wide QRS complex due to bundle branch block and ventricular pacing, including bivariate QTc modification, univariate QT-interval modifications, and use of the JT-interval. Conclusions: The QT-interval is prolonged ipso facto in patients with a wide QRS complex from ventricular conduction delay/ventricular pacing and must be adjusted for QRS duration. Multiple formulae have been proposed to account for wide QRS complex in this setting with no single universally accepted methodology. We suggest the use of either the Bogossian formula or JT-interval followed by Hodges or Framingham heart-rate correction to adjust for a wide QRS complex. It is critical that the C-L psychiatrist be able to identify a wide QRS complex on the electrocardiogram, understand implications for accurate assessment of prolonged depolarization, and apply an appropriate correction methodology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the Academy of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • QTc prolongation
  • Torsades de pointes
  • bundle branch block
  • cardiovascular disease
  • ventricular pacing
  • wide QRS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Medicine(all)

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