Frequency-dependent effects of amitriptyline on ventricular conduction and cardiac rhythm in dogs.
Although overdoses of tricyclic antidepressant are known to produce both sinus tachycardia and ventricular tachyarrhythmias in man, these have been assumed to occur by independent mechanisms. This study was designed to evaluate the relationship of ventricular activation frequency to the cardiotoxic effects of amitriptyline. When amitriptyline was infused into dogs with formalin-induced atrioventricular (AV) block to evaluate a broad range of pacing frequencies, the drug produced dose-related QRS prolongation that was markedly frequency dependent. Similar frequency-dependent depression of the maximum rate of depolarization (Vmax) was noted for canine Purkinje fibers superfused with amitriptyline in vitro. The time constant of recovery from amitriptyline-induced block was dose independent and averaged 228 msec in vivo and 216 msec in vitro. When amitriptyline was infused into dogs with intact AV conduction, sinus tachycardia occurred within 15 min, followed by progressive QRS prolongation and ventricular tachyarrhythmias after an average 29 min. Slowing of sinus rate by vagal stimulation (seven dogs) or intravenous metoprolol (five dogs) reproducibly reversed the QRS prolongation and ventricular tachyarrhythmias caused by amitriptyline. These studies show that amitriptyline produces frequency-related depression of ventricular conduction in vivo, with a time dependence similar to effects on the maximum rate of depolarization in vitro. Interventions that slow heart rate reverse the adverse effects of amitriptyline on ventricular conduction and cardiac rhythm.
- Copyright © 1985 by American Heart Association