Generic Name: amiodarone (A-mee-OH-da-rone)
Brand Name: Examples include Cordarone and Pacerone
Amiodarone should only be used in patients with life-threatening irregular heartbeat. New or worsening of irregular heartbeat, life-threatening lung problems, and serious liver problems may occur with use of amiodarone. Alternative medicines should be tried before amiodarone is used. Initial use of amiodarone requires close monitoring and dose selection may be difficult. It is very common to require a dosage decrease or discontinuation of treatment. The recurrence of the irregular heartbeat after discontinuation or dosage adjustment is unpredictable, and hospitalization may be required.
Amiodarone is used for:
Treating certain types of life-threatening recurrent irregular heartbeat in patients who cannot tolerate or do not respond well to other medicines. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Amiodarone is an antiarrhythmic. It works by helping the heart to regain a normal rhythm.
Do NOT use amiodarone if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in amiodarone, including iodine
- you have moderate to severe heart block, or fainting or severe dizziness or light-headedness due to slow heartbeat (unless you have a pacemaker); a very slow heartbeat; or shock due to serious heart problems
- you take any medicine that may increase the risk of a certain type of irregular heartbeat (prolonged QT interval). Check with your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines may increase the risk of this irregular heartbeat.
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using amiodarone:
Some medical conditions may interact with amiodarone. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:
- if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
- if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
- if you have abnormal liver function tests or a history of liver problems; lung or breathing problems; other heart problems (eg, heart block, slow or irregular heartbeat); low blood pressure; thyroid problems; low blood potassium, magnesium, or calcium levels; or eye or vision problems
- if you have recently had severe or persistent diarrhea
- if you will be having surgery or receiving anesthesia, or if you have an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with amiodarone. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Many prescription and nonprescription medicines (eg, used for allergies, bacterial and fungal infections, blood thinning, cancer, constipation, cough, depression or other mental or mood problems, enlarged prostate, erectile dysfunction, heartburn or reflux problems, hepatitis C infection, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV infection, immune system suppression, inflammation, irregular heartbeat or other heart problems, multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting, pain, seizures, stomach or bowel problems, Tourette syndrome), multivitamin products, and herbal or dietary supplements may interact with amiodarone. Check with your doctor to see if amiodarone may interact with any other medicine that you are taking.
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if amiodarone may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.
How to use amiodarone:
Use amiodarone as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Amiodarone comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get amiodarone refilled.
- Take amiodarone by mouth with or without food. However, it is more important to take it consistently with regard to meals. If you take it with food, try to always take it with food to improve absorption of amiodarone. If you prefer to take it on an empty stomach, then always try to take it on an empty stomach.
- Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you take amiodarone.
- If you take cholestyramine, ask your doctor or pharmacist how to take it with amiodarone.
- Amiodarone works best when there is a constant level of the medicine in your body. Take amiodarone on a regular schedule around the clock, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Take it at the same time each day.
- Continue to take amiodarone even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
- If you miss a dose of amiodarone, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use amiodarone.
Important safety information:
- Tell your doctor or dentist that you take amiodarone before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery, including laser surgery on the eye.
- Amiodarone may cause dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use amiodarone with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- Do not stop taking amiodarone without checking with your doctor.
- Severe and sometimes fatal lung or breathing problems have been reported with amiodarone. Contact your doctor right away if you develop shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, fever, or cough, or if you begin coughing up blood.
- Amiodarone may cause vision problems that may lead to permanent blindness. Contact your doctor right away if you experience vision changes (eg, seeing halos, blurred vision, loss of vision).
- Long-term exposure to amiodarone may cause blue-gray discoloration of the skin, particularly of the face and hands. This effect is not harmful and usually reverses, sometimes incompletely, after the medicine is stopped. Avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun may help to prevent this effect.
- Limit alcoholic beverages while taking amiodarone.
- It may take several days to weeks for amiodarone to work. A response may not be seen for up to 3 weeks after the medicine is started.
- Amiodarone stays in your body for some time if you have to stop taking it. If you stop taking amiodarone, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist that you took amiodarone before starting other medicines. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
- Amiodarone may cause skin reactions similar to serious sunburn or sensitivity to sunlight. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths while taking amiodarone. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
- Severe skin reactions (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. They can cause serious health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- Tell your doctor if you have severe or persistent diarrhea while you are taking amiodarone. You will need to take care not to become dehydrated.
- Your doctor may want you to check your pulse rate every day while you take amiodarone. Learn how to monitor your pulse.
- Carry an ID card at all times that says you take amiodarone.
- Lab tests, including electrocardiograms (ECGs), chest x-rays, lung function tests, liver function tests, thyroid function tests, and eye exams, may be performed while you use amiodarone. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- Use amiodarone with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
- Amiodarone should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Amiodarone has been shown to cause harm to the fetus. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using amiodarone while you are pregnant. Amiodarone is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking amiodarone.
Possible side effects of amiodarone:
All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Abnormal taste or smell; constipation; decreased sexual interest; dizziness; dry eyes; flushing of the face; general body discomfort; headache; loss of appetite; nausea; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing or swallowing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); blue-gray discoloring of the skin (especially of the hands or feet); burning, numbness, or tingling; chest, jaw, or arm pain; confusion; cough; coughing up blood; decreased coordination; decreased urination; eye discomfort; fainting; fast or slow heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; involuntary muscle movements; joint pain; muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness (especially with fever or unusual tiredness); nervousness; new or worsening irregular heartbeat; severe or persistent dizziness; shortness of breath; skin reaction similar to serious sunburn; sluggishness; sudden, severe nausea or vomiting; swelling of the hands, ankles, legs, or feet; symptoms of liver problems (eg, dark urine, loss of appetite, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellowing of the eyes or skin); symptoms of thyroid problems (eg, feeling of being unusually hot or cold, increased sweating, mental or mood changes, numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, menstrual changes, swelling of your neck); trouble walking; uncontrolled shaking or tremor; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; unusual weight changes; vision changes (eg, seeing halos, blurred vision, loss of vision); wheezing.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.Proper storage of amiodarone:
Store amiodarone at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C), in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep amiodarone out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about amiodarone, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Amiodarone is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
- Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take amiodarone or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about amiodarone. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to amiodarone. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using amiodarone.
Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.
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