Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction





DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

December 2015



QTc prolongation and Torsade de Ppointes have been reported in patients on methadone maintenance.


In this study, QTc was compared before and after the veteran (n = 49) was on a stable dosage of methadone for 8.72 ± 4.50 years to treat heroin dependence. Risk factors were correlated with the QTc once the veteran was on a stable dose of methadone. Differences in the clinical risk factors in subgroups of veterans with below and above mean QTc change was compared.

Patients and Methods:

ECG data was obtained from a 12-lead electrocardiogram (pre-methadone and on methadone) on 49 veterans. Data and risk factors were retrospectively collected from the medical records.


The mean QTc at baseline (pre-methadone) was 426 ± 34 msec and after being on methadone for an average of 8.72 ± 4.50 years was significantly higher at 450 ± 35 msec. No significant relationships were found between QTc prolongation and risk factors except for calcium. The methadone dosage was significantly higher in veterans with a QTc change above the mean change of ≥ 24 msec (88.48 ± 27.20 mg v.s 68.96 ± 19.84 mg). None of the veterans experienced cardiac arrhythmias.


The low complexity of medical co-morbidities may explain the lack of a significant correlation between any risk factor with the QTc except calcium and methadone dosage. The absence of TdP may be explained by the low prevalence of QTc values > 500 msec as well as the retrospective design of the study. During long-term methadone treatment, there was a slight increase in the QTc interval but we did not find evidence of increased cardiac toxicity as a reason for treatment termination.


Copyright © 2015, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.

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VCU Psychiatry Publications