First-generation antipsychotics and QTc: any role for mediating variables?

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Corrected QT (QTc) interval prolongation is often associated with use of first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs). However, other factors require appropriate consideration, including age and gender, the role of other known medications associated with QTc prolongation, and severe comorbid conditions, such as co-occurring alcohol abuse/dependence. We aimed to study potential mediating roles of different, related, candidate variables on QTc.


We capitalized on data from a large (N = 2366), cross-sectional, national survey, the STAR Network QTc study, using a representative sample of people taking FGAs, and recruited from mental health services across Italy.


About one-third of the sample was treated with FGAs, and almost one-tenth of the subjects took a different, additional, drug known to cause QTc prolongation. Our findings confirmed that there is an impact from FGAs, age, gender, alcohol misuse, and concurrent risky drugs on QTc. However, comorbid alcohol abuse/dependence and concurrent risky drugs did not mediate the effect of FGAs on QTc.


Our findings showed that FGAs, concurrent risky drugs, and alcohol use disorders prolonged QTc. FGAs had a direct effect on QTc, confirming the need for clinicians to monitor a risk that could lead to sudden unexplained death. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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