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 they work?
Anti-arrhythmics work in different and sometimes multiple ways. They affect the electrical activity of heart cells, supressing any irregularity.
What's the catch?
Amiodarone - Although unwanted side effects are not common, Amiodarone can cause issues with your thyroid, lungs or liver. It can also make you sensitive to sunlight.
Flecainide - Generally people don't experience side effects, but when used for the first time Flecainide can sometimes cause nausea, blurred vision or dizziness.
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 need regular blood tests to check thyroid and liver 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.