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Medications for Arrhythmias (Heart Rhythm Disturbances)

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by Polsdorfer R
 
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). These include:
  • Quinidine
  • Procainamide
  • Disopyramide
  • Phenytoin
  • Tocainide
  • Mexiletine
  • Flecainide
  • Propafenone
  • Moricizine
  • Propranolol
  • Metoprolol
  • Bretylium
  • Amiodarone
  • Sotalol
  • Ibutilide
  • Dofetilide
  • Diltiazem
  • Verapamil
  • Digitalis glycosides
  • Adenosine

Prescription Medications

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.
 

References


Colucci R, Silver M, et al. Common types of supraventricular tachycardia: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2010;82(8):942-952. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1015/p942.html. Accessed March 20, 2014.


Drugs for arrhythmias. Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular%5Fdisorders/arrhythmias%5Fand%5Fconduction%5Fdisorders/overview%5Fof%5Farrhythmias.html#v936804. Updated July 2012. Accessed March 20, 2014.


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. 2000;160:1741.


Gutierrez C, Blanchard D. Atrial fibrillation: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(1):61-68. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/0101/p61.html. Accessed March 20, 2014.


How are arrhythmias treated? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr/treatment.html. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed March 20, 2014.


Medications for arrhythmia. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Medications-for-Arrhythmia%5FUCM%5F301990%5FArticle.jsp. Updated February 26, 2014. Accessed March 20, 2014.


Triola BR, Kowey PR. Antiarrhythmic drug therapy. Curr Treat Options Cardiovasc Med. 2006;8(5):362-370.


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. 2001;38:173.

 

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