Drugs that Treat Cardiac Arrhythmias

The Antiarrhythmic Medications

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If you have a cardiac arrhythmia (or heart rhythm disturbance) such as atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), atrial premature complexes (PACs), or ventricular premature complexes (PVCs), your doctor may prescribe a medication aimed at suppressing the arrhythmia. These medications are called antiarrhythmic drugs.

As a general rule, antiarrhythmic drugs can produce side effects that outweigh their potential benefits. For this reason, doctors are usually relatively reluctant to prescribe them unless the arrhythmia being treated is very disruptive to a patient's life - and there are no other acceptable alternatives.

(Note: These drugs are divided into four classes, according to their action on the cardiac cell. An antiarrhythmic drug's class has some relevance to researchers, and somewhat less to doctors, but for the most part will not have much relevance to patients. Just make sure you know all you can about the specific drug you are taking.)

Class I Antiarrhythmic Drugs

  • Disopyramide - Norpace
  • Flecainide - Tambocor
  • Mexilitine - Mexitil
  • Phenytoin - Dilantin
  • Propafenone - Rhythmol
  • Quinidine - Quinidex

Beta Blockers (Class II Antiarrhythnmic Drugs)

  • Acebutolol - Sectral
  • Atenolol - Tenormin
  • Betaxolol - Kerlone
  • Bisoprolol - Zebeta, also sold as Ziac
  • Carteolol - Cartrol
  • Carvedilol - Coreg
  • Labetalol - Normodyne, also sold as Trandate
  • Metoprolol - Lopressor, also sold as Toprol
  • Nadolol - Corgard
  • Penbutolol - Levatol
  • Propranolol - Inderal, Inderal LA
  • Timolol - Blocadren

Class III Antiarrhythmic Drugs

Calcium Channel Blockers (Class IV Antiarrhythmic Drugs)

  • Diltiazem - Cardizem, also sold as Dilacor and Tiazac
  • Verapamil hydrochloride - Isoptin, also sold as Calan, Verelan, and Covera
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Article Sources
  • Crawford MH, Bernstein SJ, Deedwania PC, et al. ACC/AHA guidelines for ambulatory electrocardiography: executive summary and recommendations. A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association task force on practice guidelines (committee to revise the guidelines for ambulatory electrocardiography). Circulation 1999; 100:886.