Antiarrhythmic drugs: Quinidine (Class 1A)


Quinidine is a class IA antiarrhythmic agent used to treat heart rhythm disturbances. It is a diastereomer of the antimalarial agent quinine, originally derived from the bark of the cinchona tree. The drug causes increased action potential duration as well as a prolonged QT interval.

Cardiac Effects

Similarities with Procainamide

  • Slows the Upstroke of the Action Potential: Quinidine inhibits the initial phase of the cardiac action potential.
  • Slows Conduction: It reduces the speed of electrical impulses in the heart.
  • Prolongs the QRS Duration: Quinidine extends the QRS complex on the ECG, indicating a delay in ventricular depolarization.


Unique Features

  • Prolongs Action Potential Duration: Quinidine achieves this by blocking several potassium channels.
  • Antimuscarinic Actions: It has modest antimuscarinic effects, inhibiting the activity of acetylcholine on muscarinic receptors in the heart.


  • QT-Interval Prolongation: Excessive prolongation of the QT interval can lead to dangerous arrhythmias.
  • Torsades de Pointes: A specific type of ventricular tachycardia induced by quinidine.
  • Excessive Sodium Channel Blockade: At toxic levels, quinidine can overly inhibit sodium channels, slowing heart conduction.

Extracardiac Effects

  • Gastrointestinal Issues: Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are observed in 33-50% of patients.
  • Cinchonism: A syndrome of headache, dizziness, and tinnitus occurs at toxic drug concentrations.
  • Idiosyncratic or Immunologic Reactions: Rarely, quinidine can cause thrombocytopenia, hepatitis, angioneurotic edema, and fever.

Pharmacokinetics & Therapeutic Use

  • Absorption and Elimination: Quinidine is well-absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is metabolized in the liver.
  • Limited Use: Due to its cardiac and extracardiac adverse effects, and the availability of better-tolerated drugs, quinidine is rarely used today.


Quinidine is a potent antiarrhythmic agent with a mechanism of action similar to procainamide. However, its use has been largely overshadowed by its range of adverse effects and the availability of safer alternatives. While it remains an option for treating certain arrhythmias, its use requires careful monitoring and is generally considered a last resort due to its safety profile.

Note: This article is intended for educational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for medical advice and treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of a healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *