Smartphone electrocardiogram for QT interval monitoring in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients treated with Hydroxychloroquine

Med J Malaysia. 2021 Mar;76(2):125-130.


INTRODUCTION: The global pandemic of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has led to the re-purposing of medications, such as hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir in the treatment of the earlier phase of COVID-19 before the recognized benefit of steroids and antiviral. We aim to explore the corrected QT (QTc) interval and ‘torsadogenic’ potential of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir utilising a combination of smartphone electrocardiogram and 12-lead electrocardiogram monitoring.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between 16-April-2020 to 30-April- 2020, patients with suspected or confirmed for COVID-19 indicated for in-patient treatment with hydroxychloroquine with or without lopinavir-ritonavir to the Sarawak General Hospital were monitored with KardiaMobile smartphone electrocardiogram (AliveCor®, Mountain View, CA) or standard 12-lead electrocardiogram. The baseline and serial QTc intervals were monitored till the last dose of medications or until the normalization of the QTc interval.

RESULTS: Thirty patients were treated with hydroxychloroquine, and 20 (66.7%) patients received a combination of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir therapy. The maximum QTc interval was significantly prolonged compared to baseline (434.6±28.2msec vs. 458.6±47.1msec, p=0.001). The maximum QTc interval (456.1±45.7msec vs. 464.6±45.2msec, p=0.635) and the delta QTc (32.6±38.5msec vs. 26.3±35.8msec, p=0.658) were not significantly different between patients on hydroxychloroquine or a combination of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir. Five (16.7%) patients had QTc of 500msec or more. Four (13.3%) patients required discontinuation of hydroxychloroquine and 3 (10.0%) patients required discontinuation of lopinavirritonavir due to QTc prolongation. However, no torsade de pointes was observed.

CONCLUSIONS: QTc monitoring using smartphone electrocardiogram was feasible in COVID-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine with or without lopinavir-ritonavir. The usage of hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir-ritonavir resulted in QTc prolongation, but no torsade de pointes or arrhythmogenic death was observed.


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