Mexiletine

Brand names of mexiletine

  • Alti-Mexiletine
  • Mexitil
  • Novo-Mexiletine

Mexiletine is a prescription drug belonging to the class of drugs known as anti-arrhythmic medications. Usually, this medication is prescribed to individuals suffering from abnormal heartbeat rhythm accompanied by fatal arrhythmias (any disturbance in the rhythm of heartbeat). Mexiletine helps the heart to become stable by obstructing electrical signals that result in irregular heartbeat and, thereby, allows the heart to beat with a regular pace. There is a boxed warning regarding the use of anti-arrhythmic drugs like mexiletine stating that they enhance the hazards of heart attack, particularly in patients who have already had a heart attack at least two years before they start taking this medication. Mexiletine may be given either as an oral dose or as an injection. In effect, mexiletine hydrochloride is an active anti-arrhythmic agent that is taken orally. This drug is a crystalline powder having a white to off-white appearance and is somewhat bitter to taste. Mexiletine hydrochloride easily dissolves in water as well as alcohol.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking mexiletine

As in the instance of taking any other medication, you need to adopt certain precautions before you start treatment with mexiletine. Prior to taking mexiletine, it is important that you tell your doctor whether you have any allergic reaction to this drug, lidocaine or any other medications, any constituents of mexiletine or have any other type of allergy. In case you are not sure about the ingredients in mexiletine, feel free to ask your pharmacist about it. In addition, you should also tell your doctor about all the prescription, non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs, herbal products, nutritional supplement and vitamins taken by you currently or planning to take. As several other drugs interact with mexiletine, ensure that you tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that are not mentioned in this article.

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Prior to starting treatment with mexiletine, tell your doctor about your entire medical condition and medical history, especially if you have or have endured a heart failure, heart attack, liver ailment, low blood pressure and/ or seizures. In addition, tell your doctor or healthcare provider if you smoke tobacco, since smoking tobacco diminishes the efficacy of this medication. People taking mexiletine should be aware that this medication may result in feeling wobbly or giddy. Hence, it is advisable that people taking mexiletine should not undertake any work that requires alertness, such as driving a vehicle or working with any machinery till they are sure about the effect of this medication on them.

Women who plant to take mexiletine to treat their health condition ought to tell their doctor if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. In case any woman using mexiletine becomes pregnant, she should immediately contact her doctor and seek advice regarding what actions she needs to follow. New mothers should also tell their doctors if they are breast-feeding. On the other hand, if any one taking mexiletine needs to undergo a surgery or dental operation, they should tell their surgeon or dentist that they are using this medication.

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Prior to taking mexiletine, you should tell you doctor if you are a vegetarian or consume large amounts of vegetables, meat, dairy products, citrus fruits and/ or cranberries. In case you do not consume these foods and fruits in large amounts regularly, it is advisable to continue with your routine diet.

Usage

Belonging to the class of drugs known as anti-arrhythmic drugs, mexiletine is typically used to cure specific forms of grave, sometimes even fatal, abnormal heartbeat, for instance unrelenting ventricular tachycardia. This medication is also used to bring back the normal pace of the heart as well as to sustain a standard, stable heartbeat. Mexiletine works by obstructing specific electrical signals within the heart that are responsible for abnormal heartbeat. Treating irregular heartbeat using anti-arrhythmic drugs may lower the hazards of forming blood clots, which, in turn, helps to lower the risks of a stroke and/ or heart attack.

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How to use mexiletine

Mexiletine is to be taken orally with a full glass of water (around 8 ounces or 240 ml) and food. Usually, it should be taken around twice or three times every day or strictly as prescribed by your doctor. In case you take the medication without food, it may result in side effects. However, taking this drug with food or antacids helps in lessening specific side effects, such as nausea and heartburn. If you are not sure about how to take this medication or have any queries, ask your pharmacist for guidance. You may also ask the name of the antacid that would be most effective with this medication.

The dosage of mexiletine depends on the age of the patient, his/ her medical condition, liver function and also the response to therapy with the drug. It is important to use this medication on a regular basis with a view to obtain the utmost benefit from it. It is advisable to take mexiletine at the same time every day, as it will help you to remember the time when you should take the medication. In case you miss a dose of this medication, take it immediately when you remember. However, if it is already time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your dosing schedule. Never take a double dose to make up for the missed dose, as it may result in serious side effects. Call your doctor if you find that your condition persists or worsens even after taking this medication for a period of time.

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If you suspect of having taken an overdose of the medication, get immediate medical help. In such cases, you should straight way call the poison control center in your locality or an emergency room. Some of the symptoms of an overdose of the medication may include stupor, fainting, confusion and/ or seizures.

People taking mexiletine should undergo laboratory/ or medical examinations, for instance, blood pressure, EKG (electrocardiogram) from time to time with a view to keep an eye on their progress or check for the side effects caused by the medication. You should consult your doctor for further details in this regard. Remember never to miss any appointment with your doctor or laboratory.

It is important for people taking mexiletine that they should not permit anyone else to take this medication. In case you have any queries regarding the refilling of the prescription, talk to your pharmacist.

How mexiletine works

Mexiletine works by inhibiting the nerve impulses within the heart and, at the same time, makes the tissues of the heart less susceptible to nerve impulses. These actions of the medication help to stabilize the heartbeat.

Side effects

Serious
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual bleeding
  • fever
  • rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • chills
  • seizures
  • unusual bruising
Common
  • lightheadedness
  • dizziness
  • abdominal pain
  • nervousness
  • difficulty in walking
  • shaking of hands
  • unsteadiness
  • trembling
  • heartburn
  • nausea, vomiting
Less common

Possible interactions

As is the case with most other drugs, mexiletine is also known to interact with several medications, especially herbal products and/ or minerals and, hence, they should not be taken concurrently. People taking mexiletine should never take herbs like ma huang, St. John's wort or kola simultaneously since it may invigorate the heart intolerably. In addition, people enduring irregular heart rhythms should never use certain herbs, such as henbane, belladonna, pheasant's eye extract, scopolia, lily-of-the-valley or squill powdered extracts.

Mexiletine is also known to interact with certain beverages, such as those containing caffeine and alcohol. Drinking beverages containing caffeine may have an adverse influence on the heart and, hence, it is not advisable for people taking mexiletine. Similarly, alcohol also has the potential to raise the blood pressure lowering effects of mexiletine and should be avoided. It has been found that even smoking tobacco is very harmful for people taking mexiletine, as nicotine aggravates the heart beat and, at the same time, diminishes the effect of this medication. In addition, disparate ailments, such as diarrhea, vomiting and/ or dehydration too may have an adverse effect on the action of mexiletine. In case you are taking mexiletine and experience any such ailment, bring it to the notice of your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.

Discontinuation

It is advisable that you should not stop taking mexiletine all of a sudden after using this anti-arrhythmic drug for a prolonged period. Before you discontinue taking mexiletine, you ought to consult your doctor regarding the manner in which you should stop taking the drug. Your doctor will advise you to gradually reduce the dose of the medication before stopping it for good.

Storage instructions

The anti-arrhythmic drug mexiletine should always be stored at room temperatures ranging between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C). In addition, this medicine should be stored in a place which is away from light and moisture. Never keep this medication in your bathroom, which is mostly damp. Also remember to keep the medicine in such a place which is beyond the reach of children and pets.

When the medication becomes outdated or is no longer needed, discard it in a proper and safe manner. Remember never to dispose of the medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain, unless you have been instructed otherwise. If necessary, talk to your pharmacist or the disposal company in your neighbourhood for further details regarding the safe and proper disposal of the medication.

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