- A Visual Guide to Heart Disease
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- Take the Heart Disease Quiz!
- What is amiodarone, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for amiodarone?
- Is amiodarone available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for amiodarone?
- What are the side effects of amiodarone?
- What is the dosage for amiodarone?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with amiodarone?
- Is amiodarone safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about amiodarone?
What is amiodarone, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Amiodarone is an oral and injectable drug that is used to correct abnormal rhythms of the heart. (It is an antiarrhythmic medication.) Although amiodarone has many side effects, some of which are severe and potentially fatal, it has been successful in treating many arrhythmias when other antiarrhythmic drugs have failed. Amiodarone is considered a "broad spectrum" antiarrhythmic medication, that is, it has multiple and complex effects on the electrical activity of the heart which is responsible for the heart's rhythm. Among its most important electrical effects are:
- a delay in the rate at which the heart's electrical system "recharges" after the heart contracts (repolarization);
- a prolongation in the electrical phase during which the heart's muscle cells are electrically stimulated (action potential);
- a slowing of the speed of electrical conduction (how fast each individual impulse is conducted through the heart's electrical system);
- a reduction in the rapidity of firing of the normal generator of electrical impulses in the heart (the heart's pacemaker);
- a slowing of conduction through various specialized electrical pathways (called accessory pathways) which can be responsible for arrhythmias.
In addition to being an antiarrhythmic medication, amiodarone also causes blood vessels to dilate (enlarge). This effect can result in a drop in blood pressure. Because of this effect, it also may be of benefit in patients with congestive heart failure.
Amiodarone was discovered in 1961 and approved by the FDA in December 1985.
What brand names are available for amiodarone?
Cordarone, Nextrone, Pacerone
Is amiodarone available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for amiodarone?
What are the side effects of amiodarone?
Amiodarone has many side effects and several that are serious. This is only a partial list. Common side effects include:
- eye deposits,
- unsteady gait,
- weight loss,
- dizziness, and
- visual changes.
Amiodarone is also associated with:
- heart block,
- low blood pressure,
- pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs),
- heart failure,
- cardiac arrest, hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism,
- blue skin discoloration,
- liver failure, and
- cardiogenic shock.
Quick GuideHeart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
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