QTc interval prolongation and torsade de pointes associated with second-generation antipsychotics and antidepressants: a comprehensive review

CNS Drugs. 2014 Oct;28(10):887-920. doi: 10.1007/s40263-014-0196-9.


We comprehensively reviewed published literature to determine whether it supported the link between corrected QT (QTc) interval prolongation and torsade de pointes (TdP) for the 11 second-generation antipsychotics and seven second-generation antidepressants commonly implicated in these complications. Using PubMed and EMBASE, we identified four thorough QT studies (one each for iloperidone, ziprasidone, citalopram, and escitalopram), 40 studies specifically designed to assess QTc interval prolongation or TdP, 58 publications based on data from efficacy and safety trials, 18 toxicology studies, and 102 case reports. Thorough QT studies, QTc prolongation-specific studies, and studies based on efficacy and safety trials did not link drug-associated QTc interval prolongation with TdP. They only showed that the drugs reviewed caused varying degrees of QTc interval prolongation, and even that information was not clear and consistent enough to stratify individual drugs for this risk. The few toxicology studies provided valuable information but their findings are pertinent only to situations of drug overdose. Case reports were most informative about the drug-QTc interval prolongation-TdP link. At least one additional well established risk factor for QTc prolongation was present in 92.2 % of case reports. Of the 28 cases of TdP, six (21.4 %) experienced it with QTc interval <500 ms; 75 % of TdP cases occurred at therapeutic doses. There is little evidence that drug-associated QTc interval prolongation by itself is sufficient to predict TdP. Future research needs to improve its precision and broaden its scope to better understand the factors that facilitate or attenuate progression of drug-associated QTc interval prolongation to TdP.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / adverse effects*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Torsades de Pointes / chemically induced*


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Antipsychotic Agents