Uses of Amiodarone
Amiodarone is used to treat and prevent certain types of serious, life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias (a certain type of abnormal heart rhythm) when other medications did not help or could not be tolerated. Amiodarone is in a class of medications called antiarrhythmics. It works by relaxing overactive heart muscles.
Side Effects of Amiodarone
Amiodarone may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- loss of appetite
- decreased sex drive
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- changes in the ability to taste and smell
- changes in the amount of saliva
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- weight loss or gain
- intolerance to heat or cold
- thinning hair
- excessive sweating
- changes in the menstrual cycle
- swelling in the front of the neck (goiter)
- swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- decreased concentration
- movements that you cannot control
- poor coordination or trouble walking
- numbness or tingling in the hands, legs, and feet
- muscle weakness
- Amiodarone may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before taking amiodarone:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to amiodarone, iodine, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in amiodarone tablets. Ask your pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section and any of the following: antidepressants (‘mood elevators’) such as trazodone (Oleptro); anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as dabigatran (Pradaxa) and warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); certain cholesterol lowering medications such as atorvastatin (Lipitor, in Caduet, in Liptruzet), cholestyramine (Prevalite), lovastatin (Altoprev, in Advicor), and simvastatin (Zocor, in Simcor, in Vytorin); cimetidine; clopidogrel (Plavix); cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune); dextromethorphan (a medication in many cough preparations); fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, others); HIV protease inhibitors such as indinavir (Crixivan) and ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra, in Viekira Pak); ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (Harvoni); lithium (Lithobid); loratadine (Claritin); medications for diabetes or seizures; methotrexate (Otrexup, Rasuvo, Trexall); narcotic medications for pain; rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, in Rifamate, in Rifater); and sofosbuvir (Solvaldi) with simeprevir (Olysio). Many other medications may interact with amiodarone, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list. Your doctor may have to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John’s wort.
- tell your doctor if you have diarrhea or have or have ever had any of the conditions mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section or problems with your blood pressure.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you plan to become pregnant during your treatment because amiodarone may remain in your body for some time after you stop taking it. If you become pregnant while taking amiodarone, call your doctor immediately. Amiodarone can cause fetal harm.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. Do not breastfeed while you are taking amiodarone.
- talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this medication if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually take amiodarone because it is not as safe or effective as other medication(s) that can be used to treat the same condition.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery or laser eye surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking amiodarone.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight or sunlamps and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Amiodarone may make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Exposed skin may turn blue-gray and may not return to normal even after you stop taking this medication.
- you should know that amiodarone may cause vision problems including permanent blindness. Be sure to have regular eye exams during your treatment and call your doctor if your eyes become dry, sensitive to light, if you see halos, or have blurred vision or any other problems with your vision.
- you should know that amiodarone may remain in your body for several months after you stop taking it. You may continue to experience side effects of amiodarone during this time. Be sure to tell every health care provider who treats you or prescribes any medication for you during this time that you have recently stopped taking amiodarone.
Amiodarone comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken once or twice a day. You may take amiodarone either with or without food, but be sure to take it the same way each time. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take amiodarone exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.