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From case reports, haloperidol administration has been associated with QTc prolongation, torsades de pointes, and sudden cardiac death. In a vulnerable population of critically ill patients after cardiac surgery, however, it is unclear whether haloperidol administration affects the QTc interval. Thus, the aim of this study is to explore the effect of haloperidol in low doses on this interval.
This retrospective cohort study was performed on a cardio-surgical intensive care unit (ICU), screened 2,216 patients and eventually included 68 patients with delirium managed with oral and intravenous haloperidol. In this retrospective analysis, electrocardiograms were taken prior and within 24 h after haloperidol administration. The effect of haloperidol on QTc was determined with a Person correlation, and inter-group differences were measured with new long QT comparisons.
In total, 68 patients were included, the median age was 71 (64–79) years and predominantly male (77%). Haloperidol administration followed ICU admission by three days and the cumulative dose was 4 (2–9) mg. As a result, haloperidol administration did not affect the QTc (r = 0.144, p = 0.23). In total, 31% (21/68 patients) had a long QT before and 27.9% (19/68 patients) after haloperidol administration. Only 12% (8/68 patients) developed a newly onset long QT. These patients were not different in the route of administration, cumulative haloperidol doses, comorbidities, laboratory findings, or medications.
Significance of results
These results indicated that low-dose intravenous haloperidol was safe and not clinically relevant for the development of a newly onset long QT syndrome or adverse outcomes and support recent findings inside and outside the ICU setting.