There are several medications used in the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. The choice of medicine depends on the type of arrhythmia and the presence of different comorbidities, such as heart, kidney or liver diseases.
Let’s explore the main categories of these medications:
Beta Blockers: Beta blockers block the effect of adrenaline on the heart and blood vessels. They are commonly used in the treatment of different arrhythmias. They are mainly used as blood pressure medication and also used in the treatment of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and angina. They are usually safe and well tolerated by patients.
Calcium Channel Blockers: Calcium channel blockers disrupt the process of calcium entering the heart and blood vessel tissues. As with beta blockers, this blockage results in lower blood pressure, which is why this medication is also used to treat high blood pressure and angina. Calcium channel blockers are available in short and long acting forms. This class of medication is also usually safe and well tolerated.
Antiarrhythmic Drugs: Antiarrhythmic drugs are often used in treating different arrhythmias, especially atrial fibrillation (A-fib). Different antiarrhytmic drugs are available, such as flecainide, propafenone, sotalol, and amiodarone. Each of these drugs has different side effects. A common side effect to all antiarrhythmic drugs is pro-arrhythmia, i.e. the occurrence of dangerous arrhythmias, which is why these medications should only be prescribed by a specialist. Patients taking these drugs should have an ECG done every 6 months to check for any evidence of medication toxicity.
Do you have any questions about any of these treatments or about cardiac arrhythmias in general? If so, I encourage you to leave a note in the comment section below.
About Mikhael El-Chami, MD: Dr. El-Chami completed his residency at Emory in 2003, he also was nominated for a chief residency year at Emory in 2004. His training in cardiology and electrophysiology was completed at Emory as well. His areas of clinical interest include: Cardiac arrhythmia ablation, cardiac resynchronization therapy and prevention of sudden cardiac death. Dr. El-Chami holds organizational leadership memberships with the American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm society, and speaks Arabic and French fluently.