Effect of phenylephrine with and without atropine on QT dispersion in healthy normotensive men


      The present study examined if changes in cardiac afterload would affect QT interval dispersion. QT dispersion (QTd) on the 12-lead electrocardiogram is believed to be a noninvasive measure of electrical inhomogeneity in the heart and has recently been identified as a sensitive predictor of sudden cardiac death. In experimental models, an increase in cardiac afterload has been shown to alter action potential durations through mechanoelectrical feedback. This may result in an altered dispersion of action potential repolarization in the ventricle. Until now, there has been little evidence for this occurring in man in vivo. In the present study, the effects of afterload on QTd were examined in 10 healthy male volunteers (mean age [SD] 25 years [4.5]) who received an intravenous infusion of phenylephrine (0.2 to 3.6 μg/kg/min) given in incremental doses, and placebo in a blinded, crossover fashion. Because phenylephrine is known to alter heart rate (HR) significantly (via a reflex vagal response), the study was performed with and without atropine. We found a significant positive correlation between acute changes in blood pressure (BP) and changes in all QTd indexes (ΔQTd/Δ systolic BP and ΔQTcd/Δsystolic BP r values 0.67 and 0.60, respectively; p <0.001). This relation was independent of HR changes or reflex vagal activity. Atropine had no significant effect on QTd. These observations have important clinical implications and may partly account for why sudden deaths and arrhythmic complications occur so frequently in conditions associated with increased afterload, such as hypertension and heart failure.
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