How Effexor XR (Venlafaxine) is Associated with Prolonged QT Interval

Mahshid Moghei, PhD Medically reviewed by Mahshid M. on

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For individuals who are dealing with depression, it can be difficult to truly see life for what it is worth. There are all sorts of different problems that can come up and cause an individual to simply not be able to perform in their daily routine. Depression becomes crippling, and forces a person to focus specifically on the negative aspects of life, making it difficult to move forward without some sort of assistance. For some individuals therapy and time may prove all that is necessary to move past depression, but for others, medication becomes the necessary help.

One current medication is Effexor XR (also known as Venlafaxine HCI). This medication has been on the market now for almost 10 years and has been prescribed to individuals dealing with depression or different forms of anxiety. However, just like any other form of medication, there are side effects. One such side effect has a direct connection with QT Interval Prolongation, which means individuals who currently suffer from QT need to consult their medical practitioner to see if this is the right medication for their needs.

Side Effects of Effexor XR for QT Prolongation

There are a handful of different side effects common with Effexor XR for QT prolongation. A common question we get asked is if Effexor is safe for long QT patients? Many of these side effects are rather minor, including unusual dreams, yawning, some dizziness, sweating, feeling tired, a change of sleep habits after first starting the medication, a loss of appetite, tremors and potential sexual problems. However, issues with QT Interval Prolongation is another complication that can come up.

What is Prolonged QT Interval?

QT Interval Prolongation is associated with the human heart and the time between beats. During the heart beat of any living creature, there is something known as a Q wave and a T wave. These are the beginning and end of the heart's electrical cycle. This is the information displayed on a heart monitor at a hospital or other medical facility monitoring the heartbeat of a patient.

The peak of the heartbeat is the end of the heart's electrical cycle, which is the T wave. The valley of the heart beat, which is the start of the electrical cycle, is the Q wave. If there is an interval prolongation between the QT, it means there is an extended time difference between the starting points and ending points of a person's heart rate. There are risks of sudden death for individuals who suffer from the QT Interval prolongation, although with the proper attention it is possible to make sure this does not take place.

Connection between Effexor XR and QT Interval Prolongation

Effexor XR can have a slight impact on the electrical cycle of a patient's heart rate. When this takes place, it can cause the heartbeat's electrical cycle to change ever so slightly. For most individuals, this is not a problem as the slight variation is not going to become apparent at all. However, for individuals who are already delaying with QT Interval Prolongation, the slight variation might prove enough to push the individual over the edge in their heart's electrical cycle and increase their chance of sudden death from the situation. Because of this, for anyone who currently is suffering from the Interval Prolongation and has received a prescription for Effexor XR, it is very important to contact their primary medical physician. This individual is able to look at what their current QT interval reading is and if there are any potential health risks by going on the Effexor XR medication.

Alternative Medications

While the individual prescribing the Effexor XR might believe it offers the best chance of moving past depression or anxiety, if it has the potential of harmfully combining with a current QT Interval Prolongation, they might decide to move towards a different medication or seek out an alternative way to treat their depression.

As the electrical cycle of an individual's heart rate is very important, it is essential to avoid complicating any sort of current issue. Due to this, it is necessary for all patients to annually undergo a physical examination, in order to stay up to date on their medical condition and to see if anything has developed or changed over the course of a year. Some individuals do not realize they have QT Interval Prolongation until something reacts negatively with it. By undergoing regular checkups, it is possible to avoid any and all of these situations without having to deal with the side effects, including QT Interval Prolongation.

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The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Patients should not use the information presented on this page for diagnosing a health-related issue or disease. Before taking any medication or supplements, patients should always consult a physician or qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about whether a drug is safe, appropriate or effective.