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Loperamide-induced cardiotoxicity: a case overlooked?


A young man presented to the emergency department with seizures and recurrent episodes of polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (PMVT)/torsades de pointes (TdP) requiring cardioversion and administration of intravenous magnesium. A battery of tests performed to identify a cause for his arrhythmias and seizures were all normal. A revisit of history with family revealed he had consumed over 100 tablets/day of loperamide for the past 1 year. A prolonged QT interval on his ECG raised concerns for long QT syndrome (LQTS) (congenital or acquired). Our patient was suspected to have loperamide-induced cardiotoxicity. TdP is a specific PMVT that occurs with a prolonged QT interval and is usually drug-induced. Less frequently, congenital LQTS may be implicated. With supportive care, including mechanical ventilation, vasopressors and temporary transvenous overdrive pacing, our patient recovered completely. We describe the importance of a systematic and time-sensitive approach to diagnosing critical illness. Loperamide overdose may cause QT prolongation, life-threatening arrhythmias/cardiogenic shock, or cardiac arrest. Seizures/epilepsy may also be a manifestation in young patients. There is a substantial need to revisit the safety of over-the-counter medications and increasing awareness of manifestations of drug overdose.

  • arrhythmias
  • pacing and electrophysiology
  • adult intensive care
  • drug misuse (including addiction)
  • toxicology

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