A practical approach to torsade de pointes

Clin Cardiol. 1997 Mar;20(3):285-90. doi: 10.1002/clc.4960200318.


The term torsade de pointes refers to polymorphic ventricular tachycardia that occurs in the setting of an abnormally long QT interval. While the most common cause is treatment with QT prolonging drugs, torsade de pointes also occurs in the congenital long QT syndromes and in the setting of acquired heart block or severe electrolyte disturbance, notably hypokalemia. Among QT prolonging drugs that cause torsade de pointes, both antiarrhythmics and "noncardioactive" drugs have been recognized. The electrocardiographic features of torsade de pointes include labile QT intervals, prominent U waves, and a "pause-dependent" onset of the arrhythmia. Treatment consists of recognition of the syndrome, correction of underlying electrolyte abnormalities, and withdrawal of any offending drugs. Magnesium, isoproterenol, or cardiac pacing provides specific antiarrhythmic therapy in torsade de pointes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electrocardiography
  • Humans
  • Long QT Syndrome / complications
  • Long QT Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Torsades de Pointes* / diagnosis
  • Torsades de Pointes* / etiology
  • Torsades de Pointes* / physiopathology
  • Torsades de Pointes* / therapy