Terminology of torsades de pointes

Dan Tzivonir, Andre Keren, Shmuel Banai, Shlomo Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marked prolongation of the QT interval may be associated with life-threatening ventricular tachycardia. The ventricular tachycardia has a polymorphous appearance and is usually induced by antiarrhythmic drugs. This peculiar type of ventricular tachycardia was termed by Desserstenne torsades de pointes because of its twisting ORS axis. The main reason to give this entity a special name that differentiates it from other types of ventricular tachycardia is the unique therapeutic approach to its treatment. Torsades de pointes can be suppressed by interventions that shorten the QT interval by increasing the heart rate, such as ventricular or atrial pacing, isoproterenol infusion, or atropine. Recently intravenous magnesium was also shown to be extremely effective. If torsades de pointes is treated as a conventional ventricular tachycardia by drugs that may further prolong the QT interval, it may lead to fatal results. To draw the attention of physicians to this unusual form of ventricular tachycardia, we suggest that the term torsades de pointes be kept. This specific diagnosis will hopefully guide the treating physician in selecting the appropriate mode of therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-507
Number of pages3
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • QT interval
  • magnesium
  • torsades de pointes
  • ventricular tachycardia


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