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Some Antidepressants Tied to Irregular Heartbeat

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At least one expert was unconcerned by the study results. "These findings are not surprising and, frankly, not very meaningful," said Dr. Peter Manu, director of medical services at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y.

Manu noted that QT interval has to be longer than 500 milliseconds to be a potential problem.

"That occurrence in patients on antidepressants is extraordinarily unusual," Manu said. "In treating more than 30,000 patients over 20 years in this psychiatric hospital, I haven't seen it yet with these medications."

Other factors need to be taken into account to asses risk, Manu added. Most important is whether the patient has an existing heart problem.

"If the person's heart is normal, [longer QT interval] is meaningless," Manu said. "Nobody gets into trouble ever."

If there are underlying heart problems, it is possible the medication could lead to an abnormal heart rhythm, he said.

Manu said each patient needs to be evaluated individually for potential risks and benefits of a drug before a decision is made to start, stop or change it.

More information

For more information on antidepressants, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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