Changes in the QT and QTc intervals were studied in 16 patients by atrial pacing at rates of 100, 130, and 150 beats/minute. In all patients the measured QT shortened when the atrial paced rate was increased, but when corrected for heart rate the QTc lengthened. Intravenously administered propranolol produced a bradycardia and a lengthening of the QT interval in 15 of the 16 patients studied. When the QT interval was corrected for heart rate using Bazett's formula the QTc was shortened in 13 patients, unchanged in one, and lengthened in two. However, when the QT interval was measured at identical atrial paced rates the QT of the 15 patients studied was lengthened in 10 and unchanged in five. In none was the QT interval shortened. These results show firstly that Bazett's formula is unsuitable for correction of QT interval changes induced by atrial pacing, and secondly that, though intravenously administered propranolol usally produces a shortening of the QTc, when its effect is assessed directly by using an identical atrial paced rate the QT interval usually lengthens, or may remain unchanged, but never shortens. It is suggested that the formal assessment of drug induced QT interval changes should be made at identical atrial paced rates.
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