Objectives: COPD is the fourth-leading cause of mortality worldwide. Prolonged QTc has been found to be a long-term negative prognostic factor in ambulatory COPD patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate the extent of prolonged-QTc syndrome in COPD patients upon admission to an internal medicine department, its relationship to hypomagnesemia, hypokalemia, and hypocalcemia, and the effect of COPD treatment on mortality during hospital stay.
Methods: This prospective cohort study evaluated COPD patients hospitalized in an internal medicine department. The study evaluated QTc, electrolyte levels, and known risk factors during hospitalization of COPD patients.
Results: A total of 67 patients were recruited. The median QTc interval was 0.441 seconds and 0.434 seconds on days 0 and 3, respectively. Prolonged QTc was noted in 35.8% of patients on admission and 37.3% on day 3 of hospitalization. The median QTc in the prolonged-QTc group on admission was 0.471 seconds and in the normal-QTc group 0.430 seconds. There was no significant difference in age, sex, electrolyte levels, renal function tests, or blood gases on admission between the two groups. Mortality during the hospital stay was significantly higher in the prolonged-QTc group (3 deaths, 12%) than in the normal QTc group (no deaths) ( P=0.04). A subanalysis was performed, removing known causes for prolonged QTc. We found no differences in age, electrolytes, or renal functions. There was a small but significant difference in bicarbonate levels.
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrated that there was no correlation between QTc prolongation in hospitalized COPD patients and electrolyte levels, comorbidities, or relevant medications. A higher rate of mortality was noted in patients with prolonged QTc in comparison to normal QTc. As such, it is suggested that prolonged QTc could serve as a negative prognostic factor for mortality during hospitalization in COPD patients.