What Is Cordarone Used For?
hydrochloride) is a prescription medication approved to treat certain life-threatening abnormal heartbeats known medically as ventricular arrhythmias. Due to the risk of serious Cordarone side effects
, it should only be used when other treatments were unsuccessful or not tolerated.
What Is a Ventricular Arrhythmia?
An arrhythmia is a medical condition in which the heart beats with an irregular rhythm. An arrhythmia can occur in the upper chambers (the atria) or lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart. When an arrhythmia starts in the lower heart chambers, it is called a ventricular arrhythmia.
A ventricular arrhythmia is not necessarily a serious or life-threatening medical problem. In fact, many times an arrhythmia can be temporary and may not even cause symptoms. Less serious arrhythmias may not require any treatment.
Other times, however, the arrhythmia may be serious. Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation are types of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. In ventricular tachycardia the ventricles beat very quickly, causing a heart rate in excess of 120 beats per minute. People with ventricular tachycardia may experience symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- A pounding heartbeat.
Ventricular fibrillation describes a heart rhythm that is fast and disorganized. In ventricular fibrillation, the ventricles quiver, or fibrillate, instead of beating in a normal manner. As a result, the heart is unable to pump blood out.
Ventricular fibrillation must be treated immediately to prevent death, usually with defibrillation (a procedure in which an electrical shock is sent through the heart to restart a normal heart rhythm). Medications, such as Cordarone, may be used in addition to or after defibrillation.
Cordarone is approved to treat recurrent ventricular tachycardia when there are signs that the heart is not able to pump enough blood to supply adequate oxygen to the body's important organs. Some of the signs of this heart problem may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- A very fast heart rate.
Cordarone is also approved to treat recurrent ventricular fibrillation.
Like other arrhythmia medicines, Cordarone has not been shown to help people with arrhythmias live longer. Because of this, and because it is associated with potentially serious side effects, Cordarone should not be used to treat less serious arrhythmias.