First-generation antipsychotics and QTc: any role for mediating variables?

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2016 Jul;31(4):313-8. doi: 10.1002/hup.2540. Epub 2016 Jun 1.


Objective: Corrected QT (QTc) interval prolongation is often associated with use of first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs). However, other factors require appropriate consideration, including age and gender, the role of other known medications associated with QTc prolongation, and severe comorbid conditions, such as co-occurring alcohol abuse/dependence. We aimed to study potential mediating roles of different, related, candidate variables on QTc.

Methods: We capitalized on data from a large (N = 2366), cross-sectional, national survey, the STAR Network QTc study, using a representative sample of people taking FGAs, and recruited from mental health services across Italy.

Results: About one-third of the sample was treated with FGAs, and almost one-tenth of the subjects took a different, additional, drug known to cause QTc prolongation. Our findings confirmed that there is an impact from FGAs, age, gender, alcohol misuse, and concurrent risky drugs on QTc. However, comorbid alcohol abuse/dependence and concurrent risky drugs did not mediate the effect of FGAs on QTc.

Conclusions: Our findings showed that FGAs, concurrent risky drugs, and alcohol use disorders prolonged QTc. FGAs had a direct effect on QTc, confirming the need for clinicians to monitor a risk that could lead to sudden unexplained death. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: QT prolongation; alcohol; antipsychotic agents; drug therapy combination; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electrocardiography / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Long QT Syndrome / chemically induced*
  • Long QT Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Long QT Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged


  • Antipsychotic Agents