Antiarrhythmics are drugs that are used to treat abnormal heart rhythms resulting from irregular electrical activity of the heart. There are many different types of antiarrhythmic drugs. Examples include:
I had no inkling I had heart disease until December 2005, when I had two minor episodes of mild angina (pain in the chest area). My primary care physician ran an electrocardiogram but saw nothing abnormal. I was an athletic, lean 53-year-old who ate nutritious foods. He decided I was just stressed and gave me the go-ahead to go to Nicaragua on vacation.
But while there, the angina went from mild to severe. The pain would come and go, but on three separate occasions the pain was the most massive...
There are also a variety of drugs used by the doctor in an emergency situation to control or convert an abnormal heart rhythm.
Why Do I Need to Take an Antiarrhythmia Drug?
Your doctor has determined that you have an abnormal heart rhythm that would be best treated with drugs alone or in addition to a procedure, such as putting in an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
Because these drugs only control abnormal heart rhythms, not cure them, you may have to take them for life.
Can I Take Other Drugs While Taking Antiarrhythmics?
If you are taking an antiarrhythmic, talk to your doctor before taking any other drugs (prescription or over-the-counter), herbal remedies, or supplements.
Are There Side Effects Associated With Antiarrhythmics?
Yes, antiarrhythmics do have side effects. Notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:
Swelling of the feet or legs
Shortness of breath
Abnormally fast heartbeat
Abnormally slow heartbeat
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Other potential side effects you should discuss with your doctor if you experience them include:
Bitter or metallic taste or change in taste
Loss of appetite
Increased sensitivity to sunlight
Diarrhea or constipation
When first taking antiarrhythmics, avoid operating heavy machinery (for example, driving) until you know how the medication will affect you. Ask your doctor for advice about what to avoid doing and when you can resume.