One of the most popular prescription drug used in treating irregular heartbeat is Amiodarone. For those with defibrillator implant, this medication is normally prescribed. You can purchase this drug in intravenous and oral form. At present, the statistics show that around 4 millions Americans are using Amiodarone in treating their arrhythmia. Even though, this medication is very effective it is not intended for everybody, since it involves several side effects and complications in some individuals.
Those with life-threatening heart rhythm disease of the heart’s lower chambers uses amiodarone to maintain the normal beating of the heart. The medication enables the blood to flow out of the heart. It’s also very effective in managing ventricular fibrillation or tachycardia. In case you are allergic to amiodarone or iodine or if you are having some kind of heart conditions like AV block or slow heartbeat in the past, then you are advised not to use this drug.
What is Amiodarone used for?
Amiodarone is an effective drug in treating various types of arrhythmia. It is classified as class III antiarrhythmic which blocks the potassium channels and therefore extends the potential action and refractory period in the myocardial cells, as a result it decreases the excitability of the membrane. As compared to other type of antiarrhythmic drugs, this medicine continues to prolong the myocardial action in spite of having faster heartbeat, a feature which shows how effective it is in managing tachycardias.
It is also used as a sodium channel blocker, which resulted in the weakening in the rate of the impulse conduction and membrane depolarization. It also reduces the sinus rate as well as slows down the atrioventricular conduction. It also serves as a noncompetitive beta-blocker. It also has an antianginal effects. It has the properties which relaxes the smooth muscle, as shown by the dilatation of the peripheral and coronary arteries, thus increasing heart blood flow and reduces systemic blood pressure.
Common Amiodarone Side Effects
Vomiting and nausea are amiodarone’s most common side effects, which is experienced by around 25% of patients taking this medication. With the higher dose of this medication the most common side effects that may occur is gastrointestinal side effects and normally does not require to stop the treatment. Around 15% of patients are experiencing side effects on the skin. Most of the time patients taking amiodarone might become sensitive to the sun, which requires you to put on the sunscreen to prevent serious sunburn. Some of the side effects that may occur in the skin includes rashes, discoloration of the skin as well as hair loss.
Amiodarone has the possibility to cause several other annoying or troublesome but not harmful side effects. There are some patients that may encounter psychological or neurological side effects, this includes dizziness, insomnia, fatigue, loss of coordination, headaches, loss of libido, tingling in your extremities, and trembling. Musculoskeletal as well as respiratory side effects is also possible, this includes twitching, shortness of breath, muscle cramps, coughing and wheezing and pain in your legs or back.
Amiodarone Side Effects on Children
Children taking amiodarone to treat arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat might also experience some side effects. This drug is intended to treat child’s fast heartbeats. Since this is a prescription drug , it is a must that your child should visit his doctor before taking this medication. However, it is still best if you are aware or have some knowledge about the warning signs that might endanger your child’s life. Some of which are as follows:
- Amiodarone in children might cause liver, lung or thyroid problems in children. It is important that you closely watched your children when under this medication.
- It is important that you inform your child’s doctor about the drugs he is presently taking to avoid bad side effects. Amiodarone might have harmful effects in child when combined with other drugs. List down all the drugs that your child is taking.
- Avoid Amiodarone if your child is allergic to a particular drug.
- If you are not sure if your child is allergic from this kind of medicine observe what signs your child might have after taking the medication. Some of the allergic side effects include itching, swelling of face, tongue, throat or lips, hives, cough, wheezing, rash, shortness of breath or any other untoward signs.
Amiodarone Side Effects on Men
Men and women including children taking this kind of medication may experience the same side effects except for some which is unique to a particular gender. Amiodarone has several side effects. Those who are taking this on a chronic basis will have at least one of the following side effect.
There are some reports that amiodarone can affect the production of libido in men thus resulting in lack of sexual desire. Although it may not happen to all one of ten men using the product might experience this. The most serious side effects this medication may cause is interstitial lung disease. Some people may develop pulmonary fibrosis after taking the treatment for one week, some might not have it even after continuous use.
Long-term use of this medication may result in blue-grey discoloration of the skin. It is more common in individuals with lighter skin color. People taking amiodarone might develop sensitivity to sunlight. Men may also experience gynecomastia.
Amiodarone side effects on women
Most of the amiodarone side effects are experienced by women but not all may encounter these effects. This medication may cause loss of appetite, decreased sex drive, changes in the amount of saliva, headache, dry eyes, constipation, dry eyes, insomnia, flushing and changes in the capability to taste and smell. Although the above mentioned side effects are not serious enough to cause alarm it is still best to inform your physician about this.
Amiodarone may also affect the users liver and lung. The medication might have affected your lungs if you have the following signs shortness of breath, difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing, chest pain and spitting up of blood. Some of the liver damage symptoms are brown or dark-colored urine, vomiting or nausea, stomach pain, abnormal tiredness and yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.
Amiodarone may also affect your thyroid and may worsen heartbeat problems. Some of the effects that you might experience include thinning hair, changes in menstrual periods, changes in weight, weakness, cold or heat intolerance, swelling of your neck, depression in seniors, decreased concentration, restlessness, irritability, weight changes and tremors. Once you have these symptoms it is best to contact your doctor right away.
Amiodarone Side Effects on Pregnant Women
Amiodarone may have a toxic effect on the fetus and is not allowed to be taken by pregnant women. This medication can be taken by pregnant woman only after your physician has made an evaluation of your condition. It is important that you discuss your particular situation with your doctor to assess the overall benefits and risks of using this medicine. You and your doctor should work together in deciding whether to take this medicine or not during pregnancy. If you don’t want to take the risk and you don’t want to take this medication, you can talk to your doctor and ask if there is an alternative medicine which you can use while you are pregnant.
Amiodarone Side Effects on Elderly
Amiodarone can cause several annoying but not serious side effects in elderly. There are some elderly who might experience the following neurological side effects:
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of libido
- Tingling in your extremities
- Shortness of breathe
- Wheezing and coughing
There are some rare types of amiodarone side effects and most of the time the elderly are the one that normally experience this. Hematoligic side effects are cases of bone marrow suppression that resulted in normochromic anemia, thrombocytopenia or normocytic. There have been reports of granuloma formation as well as agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, neutropenia and pancytopenia.