WHAT IS ALREADY KNOWN ABOUT THIS SUBJECT • Thyroid hormone free T4 is associated with QTc-interval prolongation, which is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death. • The association between hyperthyroidism and ventricular arrhythmias or sudden cardiac death has been reported in several case reports. WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS • We investigated in a prospective population-based cohort study and in a case-control study whether use of antithyroid drugs (as a direct cause or as an indicator of poorly controlled hyperthyroidism) is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. • Use of antithyroid drugs was associated with a threefold increased risk of sudden cardiac death. • Although this might be due to antithyroid drug use, it could be more readily explained by underlying hyperthyroidism. AIM Thyroid free T4 is associated with QTc-interval prolongation, which is a risk factor for sudden cardiac death (SCD). Hyperthyroidism has been associated with SCD in case reports, but there are no population-based studies confirming this. The aim was to investigate whether use of antithyroid drugs (as a direct cause or as an indicator of poorly controlled hyperthyroidism) is associated with an increased risk of SCD. METHODS We studied the occurrence of SCD in a two-step procedure in two different Dutch populations. First, the prospective population-based Rotterdam Study including 7898 participants (≥55 years old). Second, we used the Integrated Primary Care Information (IPCI) database, which is a longitudinal general practice research database to see whether we could replicate results from the first study. Drug use at the index date was assessed with prescription information from automated pharmacies (Rotterdam Study) or drug prescriptions from general practices (IPCI). We used a Cox proportional hazards model in a cohort analysis, adjusted for age, gender and use of QTc prolonging drugs (Rotterdam Study) and conditional logistic regression analysis in a case-control analysis, matched for age, gender, practice and calendar time and adjusted for arrhythmia and cerebrovascular ischaemia (IPCI). RESULTS In the Rotterdam Study, 375 participants developed SCD during follow-up. Current use of antithyroid drugs was associated with SCD [adjusted hazard ratio 3.9; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.7, 8.7]. IPCI included 1424 cases with SCD and 14 443 controls. Also in IPCI, current use of antithyroid drugs was associated with SCD (adjusted odds ratio 2.9; 95% CI 1.1, 7.4). CONCLUSIONS Use of antithyroid drugs was associated with a threefold increased risk of SCD. Although this might be directly caused by antithyroid drug use, it might be more readily explained by underlying poorly controlled hyperthyroidism, since treated patients who developed SCD still had low thyroid-stimulating hormone levels shortly before death.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Antithyroid drugs, Hyperthyroidism, Sudden cardiac death
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2009.03474.x, hdl.handle.net/1765/24754
Citation
van Noord, C., Sturkenboom, M.C.J.M., Straus, S.M.J.M., Hofman, A., Witteman, J.C.M., & Stricker, B.H.Ch.. (2009). Population-based studies of antithyroid drugs and sudden cardiac death. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 68(3), 447–454. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2009.03474.x