Anti-arrhythmics help to control or slow irregular heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) or ventricular tachycardia (VT).
Types of anti-arrhythmics currently used outside of hospital:
- beta blockers
- calcium channel blockers
- amiodarone e.g. Aratac, Cordarone X
- flecainide e.g. Tambocor
- propafenone e.g. Rytmonorm
How do anti-arrhythmics work?
These medications work in different and sometimes multiple ways. They supress any irregularity of the heart rhythm by affecting the electrical activity of heart cells.
What's the catch?
Amiodarone - Although unwanted side effects are not common this medication can cause issues with your liver, thyroid or lungs. Some people can also become sensitive to sunlight.
Flecainide - Generally people do not experience side effects with this medication. However after taking if for the first time some users may experience nausea, dizziness or blurred vision.
Propafenone - If you have asthma or obstructive airways disease, take care when taking this medication as it may affect your lungs. Take it with, or just after food, and swallow it whole. Do not chew or crush.
What checks do I need?
Amiodarone - You will require regular blood tests to check liver and thyroid function.
Flecainide and propafenone - You may have some blood tests to check on liver and renal function but no regular checks are thought to be necessary.
What should I look out for?
Amiodarone - Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice as they may interfere with this medication.
Flecainide - All drugs may cause unwanted side effects. However, many people have none or only minor unwanted side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if you are concerned.
Propafenone - You may feel sleepy after taking this medication. If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines.