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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Sectrol

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.

Sectrol [posted 1/5/99]
Question: Why does the Sectrol suppress the arrhythmia some of the time and not other times? I do not tolerate Lopressor as my arrhythmia is very rate dependant (50-60s) and Sectrol doesn't lower my rate so much. I drink no caffeine, I sleep well now. I can't figure this out. I am an RN but I had never heard of this before. What are the risks of an ablation? Success rate? I am debating doing this. I have never had long runs of VT, never passed out, just very short of breath with the frequent PVCs, short runs.

Answer: Probably because they originate from a different site or the drug is in reality only partially successful. This is pretty common with most of the anti-arrhythmic drugs. Risks of an ablation are pretty small if performed by someone with some experience. Risks would center around occasional excess voltage that would damage functioning heart muscle, damage that would result in a pacemaker, etc. As you describe it, you would probably be a good choice for ablation, but see someone who has been doing it for awhile.

Sectrol vs. Tenormin [posted 8/12/98]
Question: I was prescribed Sectrol 400 mg/day about 6 months ago for premature atrial contractions. It has worked wonderfully for containing my malady. With the coming of the New Year, Sectrol is no longer covered by my insurance carrier. My local pharmacist advised that the only equivalent Beta Blocker is Tenormin. Is it safe to just switch from one Beta Blocker to another, and how will this affect me? I assume the chemical compositions are very similar. I'm sure my primary care physician will be able to answer these questions, but I was interested in finding out before I went to him.

Answer: Sectrol is a lot different in some ways than atenolol. Sectrol is a selective beta blocker that also has some intrinsic sympathomimetic activity. The sympathomimetic activity is the difference. This means the drug can be used in patients with heart failure - where beta blockers are used with extreme caution. There would likely be little difference in suppression of arrhythmias and for your use are probably similar, but there is a difference in these two drugs.

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