Effect of imipramine and nortriptyline on left ventricular function and blood pressure in patients treated for arrhythmias

Am Heart J. 1985 May;109(5 Pt 1):992-8. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(85)90240-6.


The effect of imipramine or nortriptyline on left ventricular function and orthostatic blood pressure was evaluated in 20 nondepressed cardiac patients treated for ventricular premature depolarizations (VPDs). Drug was administered by mouth and dose ranging used, 1 mg/kg/day (imipramine) or 0.5 mg/kg/day (nortriptyline), was increased after four doses (imipramine) or six doses (nortriptyline) until greater than 80% suppression of VPDs or adverse effects occurred or until a maximum dose of 5 mg/kg/day (imipramine) or 3.5 mg/kg/day (nortriptyline) was given. Fourteen (70%) had greater than 80% VPD suppression, five had less than 80% improvement (range 25% to 77%), and one had a VPD frequency increase of 6%. Mean daily imipramine dose was 210 +/- 103 mg and mean nortriptyline dose was 100 +/- 29 mg. Neither drug significantly changed mean ejection fraction or peak systolic pressure end-systolic volume ratio by radionuclide angiogram. Both reduced standing systolic blood pressure: mean change after imipramine was 26 mm Hg (NS), and after nortriptyline, 14 mm Hg (p less than 0.05). Drug was discontinued in two patients because of symptomatic orthostatic blood pressure change greater than 30 mm Hg. There was not a significant relationship between dose, drug concentration, or functional class and orthostatic change in systolic blood pressure but there was for age (p less than 0.05). These observations suggest that even cardiac patients with impaired systolic function may take imipramine or nortriptyline for VPDs; however, frequent blood pressure measurement is advised, particularly in older patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / drug therapy
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Ventricles / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Imipramine / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Posture
  • Stroke Volume / drug effects


  • Nortriptyline
  • Imipramine