Medications for Arrhythmia

Updated:Feb 26,2014

When taken exactly as prescribed, medications can do wonders. They can help prevent heart attack and stroke. They can also prevent complications and slow the progression of coronary heart disease.

In these lists of medications used to treat arrhythmias, we've included generic names first, with some common brand names in parentheses.

Some of the major types of commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications are summarized in this section. For your information and reference, we have included generic names as well as major trade names to help you identify what you may be taking; however, the AHA is not recommending or endorsing any specific products. If your prescription medication isn't on this list, remember that your healthcare provider and pharmacist are your best sources of information. It's important to discuss all of the drugs you take with your doctor and understand their desired effects and possible side effects. Never stop taking a medication and never change your dose or frequency without first consulting your doctor.

Classes of medications used to treat arrhythmias include:

Symptomatic tachycardias and premature beats may be treated with a variety of antiarrhythmic drugs. These may be given intravenously in an emergency situation or orally for long-term treatment. These drugs either suppress the abnormal firing of pacemaker tissue or depress the transmission of impulses in tissues that either conduct too rapidly or participate in reentry.

In patients with atrial fibrillation, a blood thinner (anticoagulant or antiplatelet agent such as aspirin) is usually added to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.

When tachycardias or premature beats occur often, the effectiveness of antiarrhythmic drug therapy may be gauged by electrocardiographic monitoring in a hospital, by using a 24-hour Holter monitor or by serial drug evaluation with electrophysiologic testing.

The relative simplicity of antiarrhythmic drug therapy must be balanced against two disadvantages. One is that the drugs must be taken daily and indefinitely. The other is the risk of side effects. While side effects are a risk of all medication, those associated with antiarrhythmic drugs can be very hard to manage. They include proarrhythmia, the more-frequent occurrence of preexisting arrhythmias or the appearance of new arrhythmias as bad as or worse than those being treated.

Some commonly prescribed antiarrhythmic drugs include (generic name first; common brand names in parentheses – read drug brand name disclaimer above):

  • Amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone)
  • Bepridil Hydrochloride (Vascor)
  • Disopyramide (Norpace)
  • Dofetilide (Tikosyn)
  • Dronedarone (Multaq)
  • Flecainide (Tambocor)
  • Ibutilide (Corvert)
  • Lidocaine (Xylocaine)
  • Procainamide (Procan, Procanbid)
  • Propafenone (Rythmol)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Quinidine (many trade names)
  • Sotalol (Betapace)
  • Tocainide (Tonocarid)


 

Taking medications

  • Take all medications exactly as prescribed.
  • Never stop taking any prescription medication without first consulting your healthcare provider.
  • If you have any side effects, tell your healthcare provider about them.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all your other drugs and supplements, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins. Track all your medicines online with Heart360 or download our printable medication log.
  • Medications
    Many rhythm disorders, especially tachycardias, respond to medications. Several drugs are now available and more are being developed. These drugs can't cure the arrhythmia, but they can improve symptoms. They do this by preventing the episodes from starting, decreasing the heart rate during the episode or shortening how long the episode lasts.
  • Sometimes it's hard to find the best medication for a child. Several drugs may need to be tried before the right one is found. Some children must take medication every day; others need medications only when they have a tachycardia episode. It's very important to take the medication as prescribed.
  • All medications have side effects, including drugs to treat arrhythmias. Most of the side effects aren't serious and disappear when the dose is changed or the medication is stopped. But some side effects are very serious. That's why some children are admitted to the hospital to begin the medication. If your child is prescribed medication, it's very important that your child take the medication just the way the doctor prescribes it.
  • It's often necessary to monitor how much of a drug is in your child's blood. The goal is to make sure there's enough of the drug to be effective, but not so much that harmful side effects occur. These blood tests require taking a small amount of blood from a vein or the finger. It's a good idea to talk to your child about this before the doctor visit.

Learn about warfarin and other medications for atrial filibrillation

Medicine Management

Keeping Track / Developing a System

Keeping track of your prescribed medications can be challenging — especially if you're taking several different medicines. Writing things down will make managing your medications a lot easier. Use our printable medicine tracker to stay organized.

Lowering High Blood Pressure
By treating high blood pressure, you can help prevent a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and peripheral artery disease. Our printable blood pressure tracker will help you monitor your blood pressure and record suggestions from your doctor.

Manage Everything Online
Heart360 is a one-stop, easy-to-use set of online tracking tools for medications, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, weight and physical activity.  Set goals and track your progress each time you enter your levels.  Print comprehensive reports to share with your healthcare team. And manage accounts for your loved ones as well as yourself.

 


 


Arrhythmia

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