Amiodarone

Brand names of amiodarone

  • Alti-Amiodarone
  • Braxan
  • Cordarone
  • Gen-Amiodarone
  • Med-Amiodarone
  • Novo-Amiodarone
  • Pacerone
  • PMS-Amiodarone

Amiodarone is an antiarrhythmic medication that is available in oral as well as injectable form and is prescribed for patients suffering from irregular heart rhythm. Despite having several side effects, a number of them being serious and even probably fatal, amiodarone is effective in curing several arrhythmias (anomalies in the rhythm of heartbeat) when other antiarrhythmic medications fail to yield the desired results. This medication is regarded as a 'broad spectrum' or wide-ranging antiarrhythmic medication because it has manifold as well as compound results on the heart's electrical activity that controls the rhythm of heartbeats.

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Amiodarone has numerous significant electrical effects on the rhythm of the heart and some of them are discussed here. This medication causes a lingering in the pace of refreshing the electrical system of the heart following its contraction (a condition called re-polarization). Amiodarone also inhibits the pace of conducting electricity - the rate at which individual impulses are transmitted through the electrical system of the heart. It also prolongs the electrical stage when the muscle cells of the heart are stimulated electrically (also called the action potential) and retards the speed at which standard generator of electrical impulses are fired in the heart (acting like the pacemaker of the heart). Amiodarone also inhibits conduction by means of a variety of specific electrical conduits (referred to as accessory pathways) that may possibly cause arrhythmias.

Besides being an antiarrhythmic drug, amiodarone also works to dilate or widen the blood vessels making blood circulation much easier. This action of the medication may lead to a decline in blood pressure and, hence, it may perhaps be beneficial for patients having congestive heart failure.

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While scientists discovered amiodarone in 1961, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale and use of this drug in the United States in 1985.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking amiodarone

Before you take amiodarone for the first time, it is important to let your physician and pharmacist know whether you have any allergy to this medication, iodine or any different medicaments. Also inform them about all the prescription as well as non-prescription drugs, nutritional supplements, herbal medications and vitamins you are already taking or intend to take soon.

Provided you are 65 years old or even older, you should consult your physician regarding the risks associated with taking amiodarone prior to beginning treatment with this medication. It may be noted that generally aged people should never take this medication, as it is neither safe for them, nor as effectual as different other medicaments that may be employed to cure the same health condition.

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Women who want to take amiodarone for their condition ought to let their physician from before if they are already pregnant, planning pregnancy or are breast feeding. In case you are planning to become pregnant or are breast feeding during the initial stage after several months of therapy with amiodarone, be wary because this medication may stay put in your body for a while even after you discontinue it. On the other hand, call your physician right away if you become pregnant while undergoing treatment with amiodarone and seek his/ her advice and help.

As amiodarone has the potential to remain inside the body even many months after you discontinue taking this medication, it is possible that you will also be experiencing the side effects of the drug now and then. Therefore, when you visit a physician or healthcare provider for treating any other condition even many months after you have stopped taking amiodarone you should tell them that you have been using this medication and notify them when you stopped taking it.

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In case you need to undergo any operation, counting any dental process, you need to tell your dentist or surgeon in advance that you are already using amiodarone.

People who are taking amiodarone should take care to ensure that they are not exposed to the sun or sunlamps needlessly or for extended periods. In addition, it is necessary for them to wear protective garments, use sunscreen and put on sunglasses when they go outdoors in the sun. You should know that taking this medication may make you more susceptible to sunlight. The complexion of the parts of the skin coming in contact with sunlight may change to bluish-gray and this change is likely to be irreversible, as the original complexion will not return even after discontinue treatment with amiodarone.

Undergoing treatment with amiodarone is likely to result in problems related to your vision, counting permanent loss of eyesight. Therefore, regular eye tests are absolutely essential while you are taking this medication. Contact your physician immediately if you experience any vision problem, including blurred visions, becoming sensitive to light and/ or if you are seeing halos.

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Usage

Amiodarone is an antiarrhythmic medication that is employed to put off as well as cure abnormal heartbeats, counting ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation. As the use of amiodarone may cause many side effects and its potential to turn out to be toxic, it is advisable that you carefully consider risks compared to the benefits offered by this medication before using it. This is all the more important when you are taking this medication for a prolonged period or in elevated doses.

How to use amiodarone

Prior to using amiodarone for the first time and whenever you obtain a refill of this medication, you should carefully go through the Medication Guide, which will be made available by your pharmacist. In case you have difficulty in comprehending any instruction or have any query regarding the manner in which the medication ought to be used, seek the help of your physician or pharmacist. Amiodarone is taken orally, generally once or twice every day or according to your physician's instruction. You may take this medication with or with no food, but once you opt taking it in any manner, you need to take all doses of the drug in the same way. If your physician does not advise you otherwise, it is essential that you stay away from consuming grapefruit or drinking its juice while taking amiodarone, because grapefruit has the potential to enhance the amount of amiodarone in the bloodstream. It is advisable that you talk to your physician or pharmacist for further information in this regard.

The prescribed amount of amiodarone depends on the health condition of the patient as well as his/ her response to the therapy. Usually, your physician will prescribe an elevated dose of amiodarone, lowering it gradually with a view to determine the most appropriate dose for you. It is important that you strictly follow your physician's advice while undergoing treatment with amiodarone. Also consult your physician before you make any alteration in the dosage of the medication or discontinue it. Contact your physician if your condition remains the same or gets worse.

How amiodarone works

As an antiarrhythmic drug, amiodarone works to inhibits as well as aids in regulating nerve impulses within the heart and has a direct action on the heart tissue enabling the heart muscles to react less to anomalous inducements.

Side effects

Serious:
Common:
Less common:
  • blue-gray discoloration of skin
  • chills or coldness
  • dizziness
  • dry eyes
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • metallic or bitter taste in the mouth
  • nervousness
  • puffy, dry skin
  • restlessness
  • scrotal swelling and pain
  • slow heartbeat
  • unexpected gain or loss of weight
  • unusual sweating
  • vision disturbances

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
People undergoing treatment with amiodarone should avoid taking specific herbal remedies and minerals, because they may interact when used in conjunction. If you use herbs like kola, ma huang or St. John's wort in combination with this medicine it may cause undesirable stimulation of the heart. You should know that using St. John's wort while taking amiodarone may augment sensitivity to the sun and, hence, you need to avoid this herb. Similarly, using pyridoxine is also likely to augment the hazards of photosensitivity. In addition, people with irregular heart rhythms should avoid taking henbane, belladonna, pheasant's eye extract, scopolia or squill or lily-of-the-valley powdered extracts.
Beverages:
When you are being treated with amiodarone it is likely that your physician will instruct you to limit your intake of caffeine.
Alcohol:
You need to exercise precaution to avoid using alcohol while taking amiodarone, because consumption of alcoholic beverage or taking it in any form may possibly enhance this medication's aptitude to lower blood pressure and this, in turn, is likely to cause a detrimental outcome on heart rhythm when it is taken in elevated doses.
Tobacco smoking:
Smoking tobacco is prohibited while being treated with amiodarone, as nicotine has the potential to cause irritations to the heart and, at the same time, diminish the efficacy of this medication.
Exposure to heat:
Exercise caution while being exposed to heat, because using amiodarone in hot conditions may possibly augment the chances of getting a heatstroke.
Exposure to sun:
People taking amiodarone should be careful while going out in the sun, as this drug may make you photosensitive.
Occurrence of unrelated illness:
People taking amiodarone ought to be aware of the fact that even having unrelated ailments, such as dehydration, diarrhea and vomiting may have an adverse effect on the action of this medication. In case you develop any such condition, contact your physician immediately.

Discontinuation

If you are using amiodarone for a prolonged period, it is advisable that you do not stop taking it all of a sudden. Seek your physician's help regarding decreasing the dose of the medication gradually before discontinuation.

Storage instructions

Ensure that you always store amiodarone at room temperature ranging between 20°C and 25°C and in a dark and dry place. Never keep this medication, or for that matter any drug, in your bathroom. Unless you have been advised otherwise, never discard outdated medications and those that you require no longer by flushing them down the toilet or pouring into any drain. Always dispose of such products in a proper and safe manner. If necessary, check with your pharmacist or any waste disposal firm in your locality regarding the safe disposal of your outdated medicaments.

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