The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Treatment of arrhythmias depends on the type and seriousness of the particular rhythm disturbance. Medications are most often used to treat tachyarrhythmias (fast heart rates).
In one way or another, all of these drugs act to slow the electrical activity in the heart. Many of them have additional uses, such as treating high blood pressure. All of them can produce serious side effects and must be used with great care and strict adherence to instructions.
There are many beta-blockers, but generally these two are the ones used to treat arrhythmias. All beta-blockers are used primarily for blood pressure control or to treat
. Side effects are less wide ranging than Class I drugs.
These drugs are very effective at treating heart failure, but have much more restricted use in heart rhythm disturbances. They are primarily used to control the rate of ventricular response to tachyarrhythmias. Digitalis glycosides have a very narrow therapeutic window between taking too little and taking too much.
Common side effects include:
Unwanted heart rhythm changes
is given intravenously to stop certain tachyarrhythmias (rapid heartbeat).
Common side effects include:
Shortness of breath
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
Take them as directed—not more, not less, not at a different time.
Do not stop taking them without consulting your doctor.
Don’t share them with anyone else.
Know what effects and side effects to expect, and report them to your doctor.
If you are taking more than one drug, even if it is over-the-counter, be sure to check with a physician or pharmacist about drug interactions.
Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
Drug Facts and Comparisons
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Goldschlager N, Epstein AE, Naccarelli G, et al. Practical guidelines for clinicians who treat patients with amiodarone. Practice Guidelines Subcommittee, North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology.
Arch Intern Med.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine.
14th ed. McGraw-Hill; 1998.
Mayo Clinic and Foundation for Medical Education and Research website. Available at:
Triola BR, Kowey PR. Antiarrhythmic drug therapy.
Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med.
Viskin S, Fish R, Glick A, et al. The adenosine triphosphate test: a bedside diagnostic tool for identifying the mechanism of supraventricular tachycardia in patients with palpitations.
J Am Coll Cardiol.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a