Evaluation of QTc-Interval Prolongation and Arrhythmogenic Indices and Associated Factors in Patients With COVID-19

Document Type : Original Article


1 Cardiovascular Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.

2 Department of Anesthesia, Medical School, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.

3 Faculty of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.

4 Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.

5 Taleghani Hospital Research Development Committee, Medical School, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.


Background: Patients with a prolonged corrected QT (QTc) interval are at risk of arrhythmias, including Torsade de pointes (TdP). This interval could be affected by demographic characteristics, ischemia, and most importantly drugs. Furthermore, hospitalized patients tend to experience arrhythmias, accompanied by electrolyte abnormalities and the inflammatory status of diseases.
Methods: The present retrospective study recruited 135 patients with COVID-19. We observed the QTc interval on the third post-administration day and laboratory findings for possible risk factors for QTc-interval prolongation.
Results: Ischemic heart disease was markedly more common among patients with prolonged and severely prolonged QTc intervals. Laboratory findings showed a significantly higher neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) in patients with prolonged or severely prolonged QTc intervals compared with those with normal QTc intervals and QTc intervals exceeding 500 milliseconds (P<0.001) on admission and the third day. Ribavirin caused the most elevation in the QTc interval after 3 days of hospitalization compared with other drugs. Forty percent of the patients who took ribavirin experienced a QTc interval exceeding 500 milliseconds, which was significant compared with other therapeutic regimens.
Conclusions: In addition to the well-known predisposing factors for the prolongation of QTc interval, we suggest focusing on the history of ischemic heart disease and inflammatory status (eg, by NLR) in patients with COVID-19 before making decisions to commence drugs that greatly affect QTc intervals. Further studies are required to shed light on the cardiac side effects of medications applied for COVID-19, particularly ribavirin. (Iranian Heart Journal 2022; 23(3): 77-87)


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