Phone

Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

Cough, shortness of breath, increased palpitations, loss of voice (rare). Seek medical assistance immediately. Nausea, vomiting, and yellow-tinged skin or eyes (jaundice) may occur as an indication of a serious liver problem; notify your doctor right away if such symptoms arise.
Common

Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, heightened skin sensitivity to sun, resulting in greater predisposition to sunburn, numbness or tingling in the fingers or toes, trembling or shaking, unsteadiness when walking, headache.
Less Common

Bitter or metallic taste in the mouth, blue-gray discoloration of skin, vision disturbances, dry eyes, dry, puffy skin, coldness or chills, dizziness, nervousness or restlessness, diminished sex drive in males, scrotal pain and swelling, slow heartbeat, unusual or profuse sweating, insomnia, fatigue, unexpected gain or loss of weight.
Amiodarone


Drug Class:
Antiarrhythmic

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Cordarone 200 mg
(Wyeth-Ayerst)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Tablets

Why Prescribed
To prevent and treat heartbeat irregularities, including atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. The relative risks of using this drug must be weighed carefully against its benefits, since amiodarone can be toxic, especially when taken at high doses or for long periods of time.

How It Works
Amiodarone slows and helps regulate nerve impulses in the heart, and acts directly on the tissue of the heart, making heart muscle less responsive to abnormal stimuli.

Range and Frequency
Adults: 800 to 2,400 mg per day in three or four equally divided doses at first; then 600 to 800 mg per day for one month; then 200 to 400 mg per day. Children: Dosage schedule varies according to the severity of the arrhythmia and often according to individual physician preferences.

Onset of Effect
Two or three days to two or three weeks.

Duration of Action
10 days to several months depending on total amount of time the drug has been prescribed and total quantity consumed.

Dietary Advice
Amiodarone be taken with liquid or food to minimize the risk of stomach upset.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Missed Dose
Skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Do not double next dose.

Stopping the Drug
The decision to stop taking the drug should be made by your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms after you discontinue the medication.

Prolonged Use
Dosage is typically reduced (to 100 to 200 mg daily) with prolonged use.

Over 60
Side effects may be more likely and more severe. Thyroid problems (both hypo- and hyperthyroidism) as well as walking difficulty, and numbness, tingling, trembling, or weakness in the hands and feet are likely to develop.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Proceed with caution until you determine how the drug affects you.

Alcohol
Drink only in strict moderation if at all.

Pregnancy
Studies have indicated that amiodarone may cause thyroid and heart problems in unborn children. Nonetheless, the drug may be needed if a history of serious cardiac arrhythmia is a threat to the mother's life. Discuss the relative risks and benefits with your doctor.

Breast Feeding
Amiodarone passes into breast milk; consult your doctor for advice.

Infants and Children
Amiodarone can be used in children who have symptomatic or life-threatening arrhythmias. Discuss relative risks and benefits with your doctor.

Special Concerns
To screen for early signs of side effects, most patients should have regular blood tests for liver, thyroid, and pulmonary function, and have eye exams at least annually. Before dental work, emergency treatment, or surgery requiring general anesthesia, be sure to tell the attending doctor or dentist that you are taking amiodarone.

Overdose Symptoms
Seizures, irregular or very slow heartbeat, loss of consciousness.

What to Do
Call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking anticoagulants, other heart medications, theophylline, or phenytoin. The blood-thinning effect of warfarin may be drastically enhanced within days of starting amiodarone. Usually the dose of warfarin is reduced once amiodarone is prescribed; prothrombin time is monitored carefully.

Food Interactions
None are expected.

Disease Interactions
Consult your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease, or a thyroid disorder.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
Previous  |  Next
> Printer-friendly Version