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JOURNAL ARTICLE

The Effect of Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin on the Corrected QT Interval in Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Moussa Saleh, James Gabriels, David Chang, Beom Soo Kim, Amtul Mansoor, Eitezaz Mahmood, Parth Makker, Haisam Ismail, Bruce Goldner, Jonathan Willner, Stuart Beldner, Raman Mitra, Roy John, Jason Chinitz, Nicholas Skipitaris, Stavros Mountantonakis, Laurence M Epstein
Circulation. Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology 2020 April 29
32347743
Background - The novel SARs-CoV-2 coronavirus is responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic. Small studies have shown a potential benefit of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine ± azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19. Use of these medications alone, or in combination, can lead to a prolongation of the QT interval, possibly increasing the risk of Torsade de pointes (TdP) and sudden cardiac death. Methods - Hospitalized patients treated with chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine ± azithromycin from March 1st through the 23rd at three hospitals within the Northwell Health system were included in this prospective, observational study. Serial assessments of the QT interval were performed. The primary outcome was QT prolongation resulting in TdP. Secondary outcomes included QT prolongation, the need to prematurely discontinue any of the medications due to QT prolongation and arrhythmogenic death. Results - Two hundred one patients were treated for COVID-19 with chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine. Ten patients (5.0%) received chloroquine, 191 (95.0%) received hydroxychloroquine and 119 (59.2%) also received azithromycin. The primary outcome of TdP was not observed in the entire population. Baseline QTc intervals did not differ between patients treated with chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine (monotherapy group) vs. those treated with combination group (chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin) (440.6 ± 24.9 ms vs. 439.9 ± 24.7 ms, p =0.834). The maximum QTc during treatment was significantly longer in the combination group vs the monotherapy group (470.4 ± 45.0 ms vs. 453.3 ± 37.0 ms, p = 0.004). Seven patients (3.5%) required discontinuation of these medications due to QTc prolongation. No arrhythmogenic deaths were reported. Conclusions - In the largest reported cohort of COVID-19 patients to date treated with chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine {plus minus} azithromycin, no instances of TdP or arrhythmogenic death were reported. Although use of these medications resulted in QT prolongation, clinicians seldomly needed to discontinue therapy. Further study of the need for QT interval monitoring is needed before final recommendations can be made.

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