What are the long-term treatment options for torsade de pointes?

Updated: Jan 31, 2017
  • Author: Jatin Dave, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Mikhael F El-Chami, MD  more...
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Answer

Answer

Patients without syncope, ventricular tachyarrhythmia, or a family history of sudden cardiac death can be observed without starting any treatment.

Permanent pacing benefits patients who remain symptomatic despite receiving the maximally tolerated dose of beta-blockers and can be used adjunctively with beta-blockers. It decreases the QT interval by enhancing the repolarizing potassium currents and suppressing EADs.

High left thoracic sympathectomy, another antiadrenergic therapy, is effective in patients who remain refractory to beta-blockade and pacing. Accidental ablation of ocular efferent sympathetic nerves may result in Horner syndrome.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are useful in instances when torsade recurs despite treatment with beta-blockers, pacing, and possibly left thoracic sympathectomy. Beta-blockers should be used along with ICDs because shock can further precipitate torsade by adrenergic stimulation. In the United States, an ICD for refractory cases may often precede sympathectomy.

Long-term treatment in acquired long QT syndrome usually is not required because the QT interval returns to normal once the inciting factor or predisposing condition has been corrected. Pacemaker implantation is effective in cases that are associated with heart block or bradycardia. ICDs are indicated in cases that cannot be managed by avoidance of the offending agent.

The boundary between acquired and congenital may not always be clear. Additive factors are often present, and individuals may show increased susceptibility to QT effects.


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