Several commonly-used drugs may be linked to sudden cardiac death, according to an article published in the latest issue of the European Heart Journal.

The investigators looked at the medical records of more than 500,000 patients, and whittled them down to patients who had suffered sudden cardiovascular symptoms and died between 1995 and 2003. The subsequent study population – of 775 cases of sudden cardiac fatalities and 6,300 matched controls – revealed that use of any drug with an effect on the electrical activity of the heart was linked to a significant increase in the risk of sudden cardiac death, particularly amongst women and recent starters.

Specifically, the drugs of most risk, reports the BBC, were the gastrointestinal drugs cisapride and domperidone and the antipsychotic medications chlorpromazine, haloperidol and pimozide. These compounds, it notes from the report, were probably responsible for 320 of the studied 775 deaths and – overall – could be linked to 15,000 deaths in Europe and the USA every year.