Amiodarone is indicated for the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms. Other than beta blocker drugs, this medication is considered to be the safest oral anti-arrhythmic dug available. It is, however, still recommended that treatment should be started under specialist supervision.
Amiodarone is stored in body tissue, and to load the body with the drug, tissue needs to be saturated. As a result of this, adverse effects with amiodarone may take several weeks to appear and may continue for months after withdrawal. This is because the drug is not metabolised by the liver or kidneys, but only when tissue cells containing amiodarone are shed – it may remain in the body for a very long time.
Sun exposure should be avoided while taking amiodarone and also for several weeks after stopping treatment as the drug can cause severe discoloration of the skin, generally in areas of sun exposure. It may furthermore sensitise the skin to sunlight which can result in sunburn.
Amiodarone has caused a condition known as halo-vision in several patients. This is when the drug causes deposits on the cornea of the eye. Bright light at night will appear as a foggy illumination.
How does it work?
Amiodarone slows nerve impulses in heart muscle, thereby affecting and restoring rhythm.
Drug schedule: Schedule 4
Available as: Tablets and injection
What does it do? Stabilises abnormal heart rhythm
Overdose risk: Medium
Dependence risk: Low
Available as a generic? Yes (tablets)
Available on prescription only? Yes
Onset of effect: It may take several months to achieve the full benefit of this drug.
Duration of action: Effects may persist for as long as 5 months after withdrawal.
Stopping this medicine: If this drug is stopped suddenly, symptoms of the condition being treated may recur. It should not be discontinued without consulting your doctor.
Prolonged use: The need for prolonged use should be reassessed at regular intervals as adverse effects on the liver, lungs, thyroid gland and eyes have been reported with long-term use.
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:
you are sensitive to iodine,
you have a thyroid disorder,
you have a lung disease, like asthma or bronchitis,
you have a heart disease,
you have an eye disease, or
you are taking other medications.
Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant. Note that because amiodarone stays in the body so long, it should be stopped several months before conception.
Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: This medication is not intended for use in children.
Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may be more severe. A dosage adjustment may be needed.
Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised as use of this medication may affect your vision. Avoid such activities until you know how it affects you.
Alcohol: No special precautions need to be taken.
Source Reference – Health24.com