Antipsychotic polypharmacy and corrected QT interval: A systematic review

Hiroyoshi Takeuchi, Takefumi Suzuki, Gary Remington, Hiroyuki Uchida

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: It remains unclear whether antipsychotic polypharmacy, a common clinical practice, is related to an increased risk of corrected time between start of Q wave and end of T wave (QTc) interval prolongation. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to address this important issue. Method: A systematic literature search was conducted in October 2014, using MEDLINE, Embase, and PsycINFO. Studies and case reports were included if they reported QTc intervals or QTc interval changes before and after antipsychotic polypharmacy or QTc intervals in both antipsychotic polypharmacy and monotherapy groups. Results: A total of 21 articles (10 clinical trials, 4 observational studies, and 7 case reports) met inclusion criteria. The clinical trials have shown that a combination treatment with risperidone or pimozide is not obviously related to an increase in QTc interval, whereas ziprasidone or sertindole combined with clozapine may prolong QTc interval. Among the 4 observational studies, antipsychotic polypharmacy was not clearly associated with QTc prolongation in 3 studies, each cross-sectional. In contrast, one prospective study showed a significant increase in QTc interval following antipsychotic coadministration. The case reports indicated an increased risk of QTc prolongation in at least some patients receiving antipsychotic polypharmacy. Conclusions: Currently available evidence fails to confirm that antipsychotic polypharmacy worsens QTc prolongation in general, although the evidence is scarce and inconsistent. Clinicians are advised to remain conservative in resorting to antipsychotic polypharmacy, as a combination of some QTc-prolongation liable antipsychotics may further prolong QTc interval, and efficacy supporting the clinical benefits of antipsychotic polypharmacy is equivocal, at best.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 1


  • Antipsychotic
  • Augmentation
  • Cardiac sudden death
  • Combination
  • Corrected QT interval
  • Polypharmacy
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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