n Cardiovascular Journal of Africa - Can empirical hypertonic saline or sodium bicarbonate treatment prevent the development of cardiotoxicity during serious amitriptyline poisoning? Experimental research : cardiovascular topics

Volume 26, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1995-1892
  • E-ISSN: 1680-0745



The aim of this experimental study was to investigate whether hypertonic saline or sodium bicarbonate administration prevented the development of cardiotoxicity in rats that received toxic doses of amitriptyline.

Thirty-six Sprague Dawley rats were used in the study. The animals were divided into six groups. Group 1 received toxic doses of i.p. amitriptyline. Groups 2 and 3 toxic doses of i.p. amitriptyline, plus i.v. sodium bicarbonate and i.v. hypertonic saline, respectively. Group 4 received only i.v. sodium bicarbonate, group 5 received only i.v. hypertonic saline, and group 6 was the control. Electrocardiography was recorded in all rats for a maximum of 60 minutes. Blood samples were obtained to measure the serum levels of sodium and ionised calcium.
The survival time was shorter in group 1. In this group, the animals' heart rates also decreased over time, and their QRS and QTc intervals were significantly prolonged. Groups 2 and 3 showed less severe changes in their ECGs and the rats survived for a longer period. The effects of sodium bicarbonate or hypertonic saline treatments on reducing the development of cardiotoxicity were similar. The serum sodium levels decreased in all the amitriptyline-applied groups. Reduction of serum sodium level was most pronounced in group 1.
Empirical treatment with sodium bicarbonate or hypertonic saline can reduce the development of cardiotoxicity during amitriptyline intoxication. As hypertonic saline has no adverse effects on drug elimination, it should be considered as an alternative to sodium bicarbonate therapy.

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