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Flecainide cardiotoxicity precipitated by electrolyte imbalance. Caution with diuretics

A man presented with recurrent syncope, weakness and fatigue. His ECG showed marked QRS widening and he had gross hyponatraemia and hypokalaemia. His medications included bendroflumethiazide (long term) and flecainide (started 2 months previously).

This presentation was consistent with flacainide cardiotoxicity exacerbated by electrolyte disterubance. The syncopal episodes probably represented life-threatening arrhythmias. The ECG and symptoms resolved completely once the electrolytes were corrected.

Increased cardiotoxicity with hypokalaemia is documented, but not widely recognised. Hyponatraemia is documented. The clinical effects of flecainide are due to use-dependent block of sodium channels. There are reports that support the use of hypertonic sodium salts to reverse flecainide toxicity via antagonism at the receptor. By this rationale, hyponatraemia would lead to Felcainide toxicity. Flecainide has been shown to reduce salt …

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