Signal-averaged electrocardiogram in physically healthy, chronic 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) users

Praveen Kanneganti, Marilyn A. Huestis, Erin A. Kolbrich, Robert Goodwin, Roy C. Ziegelstein, David A. Gorelick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, ecstasy) use has been associated with cardiac arrhythmias. Markers of ventricular late potentials (VLP), which may be a precursor to malignant ventricular arrhythmias, can be detected by signal-averaged electrocardiography (SA-ECG), but not by standard ECG. Methods: We evaluated SA-ECG parameters in 21 physically healthy, recently abstinent MDMA users who also used cannabis (11 males, mean [SD] age 23.3 [4.6] years, 2.8 [2.0] years of use), 18 physically healthy cannabis users (8 males, mean [SD] age 26.6 [7.1] years, 11.2 [5.4] years of use) and 54 non-drug-using controls (21 males, mean [SD] age 28.4 [7.8] years). We analyzed three SA-ECG parameters considered markers of VLPs: duration of filtered QRS complex (fQRS), duration of low amplitude potentials during terminal 40 ms of QRS complex (LAS40), and root mean square voltage during terminal 40 ms of QRS complex (RMS40). Results: MDMA users, cannabis users, and non-drug-using controls did not differ significantly from each other in fQRS, LAS40, or RMS40 values or in the proportion of subjects with abnormal SA-ECG parameters. There were significant gender differences among controls, but not among MDMA users. Conclusion: These findings suggest that chronic MDMA use is neither quantitatively nor qualitatively associated with a high prevalence of abnormal SA-ECG parameters indicative of VLP markers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-720
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Cannabis
  • MDMA
  • Signal-averaged ECG
  • Ventricular late potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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