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Antiarrhythmic Medicines for Fast Heart Rates


Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
amiodaroneCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
disopyramideCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
dofetilideCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
flecainideCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
procainamideCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
propafenoneCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
quinidineCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace
sotalolCordarone, Pacerone, Norpace, Tikosyn, Tambocor, Rythmol, Betapace

How It Works

Antiarrhythmic medicines work in various ways to return the heart to its normal rhythm. These medicines stabilize heart rhythm. One way is by decreasing abnormal firing of the heart's electrical system that causes the heart to beat too fast. Another way is by slowing the electrical conduction through abnormal pathways. Some antiarrhythmics also slow the heart rate by reducing the number of impulses that can pass through the atrioventricular (AV) node (amiodarone, sotalol).

Why It Is Used

Antiarrhythmic medicines are used to change an abnormal heart rhythm to a regular rhythm and to prevent an abnormal heart rhythm.

How Well It Works

Antiarrhythmic medicines can effectively control or prevent abnormal heart rhythms.1 There are many different types of antiarrhythmic medicines. You may need to try different medicines to see which one works best for you.

Side Effects

Some antiarrhythmic medicines may increase the risk of developing a more rapid, abnormal heart rate problem (ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation), especially for those people who have a poorly functioning left ventricle. Close monitoring while taking these medicines is important.

Side effects of antiarrhythmics include:

Amiodarone (Cordarone) may cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including lung damage, liver damage, and more severe heartbeat problems. Amiodarone is typically used for people who have severe symptoms when other medicines have failed.

If you take amiodarone and simvastatin, which is a cholesterol medicine, you may have a higher risk of a serious muscle problem called rhabdomyolysis. Simvastatin medicines include Zocor and Vytorin.

Talk to your doctor if you have any side effects or any concerns about taking amiodarone.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

You should learn to take your pulseClick here to see an illustration. if you are taking an antiarrhythmic medicine. Let your doctor know if your heart rhythm becomes too slow (less than 50 beats per minute) or irregular while you are taking an antiarrhythmic medicine.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)Click here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Drugs for cardiac arrhythmias (2007). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 5(58): 51–58.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn M. Miller, MD - Electrophysiology
Last RevisedAugust 9, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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