Anti-arrhythmic Medicines

What is an anti-arrhythmic medicine?

Antiarrhythmic drugs are medicines that correct irregular heartbeats and slow down hearts that beat too fast.

Sotalol (Betapace) and amiodarone (Cordarone) are examples of anti-arrhythmic medicines. Some drugs that are used for other reasons, like beta blockers, also can be used to treat heart rhythm problems. Which medicine is best for you depends on your condition and health.

How do anti-arrhythmic medicines work?

An electrical impulse within your heart causes it to pump. Normally, this impulse starts in the right upper chamber of the heart (the right atrium). It then moves along a pathway to the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles). Sometimes the electrical impulse does not follow the usual pathway. This makes the heart beat irregularly. This irregularity can affect the ability of the heart to pump enough blood to your brain and other organs. It can also make the heart beat very fast.

Anti-arrhythmic medicines affect how quickly sodium, calcium, or potassium move across cell membranes in the heart. This affects the way that heart tissue conducts electrical signals.

When are anti-arrhythmic medicines used?

Anti-arrhythmic medicines help stabilize the heart muscle tissue and may be used to slow the heart rate. They may be used to treat:

  • atrial fibrillation
  • tachycardia
  • ventricular fibrillation
  • ventricular premature beats.

What should be monitored while taking anti-arrhythmic medicines?

Your health care provider will check your blood pressure and heart rate regularly. You may also need regular blood tests. Report these side effects to your health care provider right away:

  • chest pain
  • severe dizziness or fainting
  • skin rashes
  • trouble breathing.

Some abnormal heart rhythms cannot be treated with drugs alone. You may need a pacemaker or an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Medicines are sometimes used along with ICDs to treat certain kinds of fast heart rhythms. Some heart rhythm problems may be treated with radiofrequency ablation.

If you have other questions call our office at 302-644-1233.



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