Acquired long QT syndrome is a reversible condition that can lead to torsades de pointes and sudden cardiac death.


To determine the frequency, onset, frequency of medications, and risk factors for the syndrome in intensive care patients.


In a retrospective chart review of 88 subjects, hourly corrected QT intervals calculated by using the Bazett formula were collected. Acquired long QT syndrome was defined as a corrected QT of 500 milliseconds or longer or an increase in corrected QT of 60 milliseconds or greater from baseline level. Risk factors and medications administered were collected from patients’ medical records.


The syndrome occurred in 46 patients (52%); mean time of onset was 7.4 hours (SD, 9.4) from time of admission. Among the 88 patients, 52 (59%) received a known QTc-prolonging medication. Among the 46 with the syndrome, 23 (50%) received a known QT-prolonging medication. No other risk factor studied was significantly predictive of the syndrome.


Acquired long QT syndrome occurs in patients not treated with a known QT-prolonging medication, indicating the importance of frequent QT monitoring of all intensive care patients.

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