Study Shows Hydroxychloroquine’s Harmful Effects on Heart Rhythm

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been promoted as a potential treatment for Covid-19, is known to have potentially serious effects on heart rhythms. Now, a team of researchers has used an optical mapping system to observe exactly how the drug creates serious disturbances in the electrical signals that govern heartbeat.

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UCI researchers reveal how low oxygen levels in the heart predispose people to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias

Low oxygen levels in the heart have long been known to produce life-threatening arrhythmias, even sudden death. Until now, it was not clear how.

New findings, in a study led by Steve A. N. Goldstein, MD, PhD, vice chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of California, Irvine, and distinguished professor in the UCI School of Medicine Departments of Pediatrics and Physiology & Biophysics, reveal the underlying mechanism for this dangerous heart disorder.

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Scientists trace the molecular roots of potentially fatal heart condition

At a glance:

Research using heart cells from squirrels, mice and people identifies an evolutionary mechanism critical for heart muscle function

Gene defect that affects a protein found in the heart muscle interferes with this mechanism to cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition

Imbalance in the ratio of active and inactive protein disrupts heart muscle’s ability to contract and relax normally, interferes with heart muscle’s energy consumption

Treatment with a small-molecule drug restores proper contraction, energy consumption in human and rodent heart cells

If affirmed in subsequent studies, the results can inform therapies that could halt disease progression, help prevent common complications, including arrhythmias and heart failure

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