Normalization of acquired QT prolongation in humans by intravenous potassium

Anna Maria Choy, Chim C. Lang, Don M. Chomsky, Glenn H. Rayos, John R. Wilson, Dan M. Roden

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    163 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: QT interval prolongation and dispersion have been implicated in serious arrhythmias in congestive heart failure (CHF) and the congenital and drug-induced long-QT syndromes (LQTS). In a subset of the congenital LQTS, infusion of potassium can correct QT abnormalities, consistent with in vitro increases in outward currents such as I(Kr) or I(Kl) when extracellular potassium concentration ([K+]o) is increased. Furthermore, increasing [K+]o decreases the potency of I(Kr)-blocking drugs in vitro. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that increasing [K+]o corrects QT abnormalities in CHF and in subjects treated with quinidine.
    METHODS AND RESULTS: KCl (maximum, 40 mEq) was infused into (1) 12 healthy subjects treated with quinidine sulfate (5 doses of 300 mg/5 h) or placebo and (2) 8 CHF patients and age-matched normal control subjects. Mean [K+] increased from 4 to 4.2 mEq/L to 4.7 to 5.2 mEq/L. Potassium infusion significantly reversed QTUc prolongation, especially in the precordial leads (quinidine, 590+/-79 to 479+/-35 [+/-SD] ms(1/2), P<.001; CHF, 521+/-110 to 431+/-47 ms(1/2), P<.05). There was no effect in either control group. Similarly, potassium decreased QTUc dispersion (quinidine, 210+/-62 to 130+/-75 ms(1/2), P<.01; CHF, 132+/-68 to 84+/-35 ms(1/2), P=.07) and was without effect in the control subjects. QT morphological abnormalities, including U waves and bifid T waves, were reversed by potassium.
    CONCLUSIONS: Potentially arrhythmogenic QT abnormalities during quinidine treatment and in CHF can be nearly normalized by modest elevation of serum potassium.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2149-2154
    Number of pages6
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


    • Potassium
    • Quinidine
    • Heart failure


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