What is Amiodarone?
Amiodarone is prescribed to help regulate your heart’s rhythm and rate, it is an anti-arrhythmic medication used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.
Amiodarone is initially prescribed 3 times daily to begin with then reduced to twice daily and once daily, it is available in 100mg or 200 mg tablets. The usual maintenance dose is 200mg daily.
People taking Amiodarone are advised to protect themselves from the sun by wearing protective clothing and using a wide spectrum sun block
Your cardiologist / cardiac nurse or GP should periodically check your thyroid and liver function before you start Amiodarone and then every 6 months whilst you are taking Amiodarone, by taking a blood test.
Your thyroid and liver function should be monitored for several months after you have stopped taking Amiodarone.
Possible side effects of Amiodarone are:
- Feeling sick (nausea), reduced appetite or constipation.
- A metallic taste in the mouth
- Slow heart rate
- Reversible deposits in the eye (micro corneal deposits- changes to the colour of the front part of the eye), blueish halo (bright circle which surround a light source- such as headlights) or blurred vision (inability to detect the details of an object).
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light) or visual impairment (loss of sight)
- Skin rash, discolouration or photo sensitivity (skin can become sensitive to sunlight)
Updated Advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) March 2022
Stop taking Amiodarone and see a doctor or go to a hospital straight away if you experience any of the following during treatment with, or in the period after stopping Amiodarone:
- New or worsening shortness of breath or coughing that will not go away
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), feeling sick or tired, loss of appetite, stomach pain or high temperature
- Weakness, weight loss or weight gain, heat or cold intolerance, hair thinning, sweating, changes to menstrual periods, swelling of the neck (goitre), nervousness, irritability, restlessness or decreased concentration
- Your heart beat becomes more uneven or erratic, or becomes very slow
- Any loss of eyesight
- Always read the Patient Information Leaflet provided with your medication and follow the advice on other medicines to avoid and what to do if you have a side-effect
Some medications can interact with Amiodarone, our advice is to check with your hospital or community pharmacist before taking any other medications including over the counter medications, herbal or complimentary medicines.
The following are known to react with Amiodarone:
- Grapefruit juice - this can increase the amount of Amiodarone absorbed from the stomach so it is best avoided while taking Amiodarone.
- St John’s Wort – a herbal supplement.
- Medicines that can slow heart rate - beta blockers, Verapamil, Diltiazem. These are sometimes prescribed alongside Amiodarone but careful monitoring will be needed.
- Warfarin - Amiodarone may increase the effect of warfarin. Additional blood tests are needed when Amiodarone is started, increased or decreased or stopped.
- Keep medicines in a safe place away from children
- Keep medicines in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight and away from heat
If your cardiologist decides to stop treatment with amiodarone, return any unused medicine to the pharmacist. Do not throw them away.
If you take your medication daily and forget to take a dose, take as soon as you remember. Do not take a double dose. If you are taking it 2 or 3 times daily do not take the dose you missed and carry on to your next usual dose.
Your GP will need to give you a repeat prescription for amiodarone. Some medicines will need to be ordered by your community pharmacy (chemist) so arrange in plenty of time.
If you have any questions please ask your cardiologist/cardiac nurse or pharmacist. This information is general advice only, if your cardiologist/cardiac nurse or GP has given you separate advice follow their instructions.