Abnormal QTc syndrome in HIV-infected patients: a systematic review of prevalence and risk factors

Antivir Ther. 2019;24(6):459-465. doi: 10.3851/IMP3335.


Background: The purpose of this review is to critically analyse data regarding the prevalence and risk factors for developing a prolonged QTc interval and subsequent sudden cardiac death (SCD) in persons living with HIV (PLWH).

Methods: A systematic literature search using PubMed and Google Scholar databases was performed using the following search terms: 'HIV and prolonged QTc' and 'managing HIV-patients with prolonged QTc'. References within articles of interest were also evaluated.

Results/discussion: PLWH are at an increased risk of having a prolonged QTc interval. Some risk factors for this include the virus itself, concomitant medications, comorbid conditions, addictions and electrolyte disturbances. PLWH who have an increased HIV RNA viral load or decreased CD4+ T-cell count are at further risk for progressing to sudden cardiac death (SCD). Many medications commonly prescribed in the PLWH population, such as antiretrovirals and antimicrobials used in opportunistic infection prophylaxis, have also been shown to promote QTc prolongation through inhibition of human ether-a-go-go potassium channels or through drug metabolism inhibition of other QTc prolonging drugs.

Conclusions: Due to the high number of risk factors associated with QTc prolongation, clinicians should incorporate baseline and routine ECG monitoring for PLWH to potentially lower the increased risk of SCD in PLWH.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac
  • Disease Management
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Long QT Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Long QT Syndrome / etiology*
  • Long QT Syndrome / therapy
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Viral Load


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents