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3.3 Cardiovascular adverse effects

Cardiovascular effects of antipsychotics include:

  • Blood pressure changes
  • Cerebrovascular events such as stroke
  • Cardiac rhythm disorders, particularly prolongation of the QT interval1
  • Venous thromboembolism

Disease of the cardiovascular system may be more prevalent in patients with schizophrenia2 than in the general population; the risk might be further increased by the use of several medicines (polypharmacy), especially in the elderly. Vigilance is needed to detect cardiovascular disorders.

Sudden transient loss of consciousness (syncope) associated with antipsychotic use may result from blood pressure change (especially postural hypotension) or, less commonly, from cardiac rhythm disturbance.

The use of clozapine has been associated with myocarditis and cardiomyopathy—see under Clozapine.

  1. The period between the start of the QRS complex (on an electrocardiogram [ECG]) to the end of the T wave. Prolongation of the QT interval is associated with potentially very serious rhythm disorders such as torsades de pointes
  2. A mental disorder which affects how the individual feels, behaves and thinks