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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Amiodarone

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question: When a patient is taking Amiodarone is lab test monitoring necessary by the cardiologist? If so, what kind of lab tests should be done, how often, and why?

Answer: Amiodarone has several potential side effects that need to be followed by the prescribing physician. Liver function tests are usually done on a regular basis. Due to the possibility of pulmonary fibrosis(1%) pulmonary function tests and diffusing capacity are done once to twice a year (a baseline when starting the drug is usually done). EKGs are usually done to check the electrical intervals to see that they are not progressing in the wrong direction. There are the usual tests on this drug which most physicians would perform regularly/occasionally depending on symptoms and other risk factors.

Question: I have constant heart palpitations and my doctor prescribed amiodarone. What are its side effects?

Answer: Amiodarone(Cordarone) is a class III antiarrythmic drug which possesses some of the characteristics of all four antiarrhythmic drug classes. It was initially used to treat ventricular arrhythmias, but over the last several years has been used mainly for atrial arrhythmias. Possible side effects include low blood pressure, liver damage, cardiac rhythm irregularities (including asystole and cardiac arrest), and nausea. It is a very effective drug in the right circumstances, but should not be used lightly.

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