An arrhythmia is when the heart beats too slowly, too fast, or in an irregular way.
In a recent study from Washington University in St. Louis, scientists found that dozens of commonly used drugs, including antibiotics, antinausea and anticancer medications, have a side effect of lengthening the electrical event that triggers contraction, creating an irregular heartbeat, or cardiac arrhythmia called acquired Long QT syndrome.
While safe in their current dosages, some of these drugs may have a more therapeutic benefit at higher doses but are limited by the risk of arrhythmia.
Long QT syndrome is a type of conduction disorder. A conduction disorder is a problem with the electrical system that controls your heartbeat.
The researchers found a compound that prevents the lengthening of the heart’s electrical event, or action potential, resulting in a major step toward safer use and expanded efficacy of these medications.
The compound named C28, not only prevents or reverses the negative effects on the heart but does not cause any change in the normal action potential when used alone at the same concentrations.
The drugs in question, as well as several that have been pulled from the market, cause a prolongation of the QT interval of the heartbeat, known as acquired Long QT Syndrome, that predisposes patients to cardiac arrhythmia and sudden death.
Although there are several types of ion channels in the heart, a change in one or more of them may lead to this arrhythmia, which contributes to about 200,000 to 300,000 sudden deaths a year, more than deaths from stroke, lung cancer or breast cancer.
In the study, the team screened a quarter of a million small compounds and identified C28.
They tested the C28 compound in animals and found that C28 could prevent or reverse the drug-induced irregular heartbeat.
They also found that there were no strong effects on atrial muscle cells, an important control for the drug’s potential use.
While the compound needs additional verification and testing, the researchers say there is a big potential for this compound and prevent heart rhythm disorders caused by common drugs.
For more information about heart health, please see recent studies that avocados can support a heart-healthy diet, and results showing the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and conducted by Jianmin Cui et al.
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