Guidance on Minimizing Risk of Drug-Induced Ventricular Arrhythmia During Treatment of COVID-19: A Statement from the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society Academic Article uri icon

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  • The COVID-19 pandemic has led to efforts at rapid investigation and application of drugs which may improve prognosis but for which safety and efficacy are not yet established. This document attempts to provide reasonable guidance for the use of antimicrobials which have uncertain benefit but may increase risk of QT interval prolongation and ventricular proarrhythmia, notably, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and lopinavir/ritonavir. During the pandemic, efforts to reduce spread and minimize effects on health care resources mandate minimization of unnecessary medical procedures and testing. We recommend that the risk of drug proarrhythmia be minimized by 1)┬ádiscontinuing unnecessary medications that may also increase the QT interval, 2) identifying outpatients who are likely to be at low risk and do not need further testing (no history of prolonged QT interval, unexplained syncope, or family history of premature sudden cardiac death, no medications that may prolong the QT interval, and/or a previous known normal corrected QT interval [QTc]), and 3) performing baseline testing in hospitalized patients or those who may be at higher risk. If baseline electrocardiographic testing reveals a moderately prolonged QTc, optimization of medications and electrolytes may permit therapy. If the QTc is markedly prolonged, drugs that further prolong it should be avoided, or expert consultation may permit administration with mitigating precautions. These recommendations are made while there are no known effective treatments for COVID-19 and should be revisited when further data on efficacy and safety become available.


  • Sapp, John L
  • Alqarawi, Wael
  • MacIntyre, Ciorsti J
  • Tadros, Rafik
  • Steinberg, Christian
  • Roberts, Jason D
  • Laksman, Zachary
  • Healey, Jeffrey Sean
  • Krahn, Andrew D

publication date

  • June 2020