What Is Propafenone SR Used For?

Propafenone SR is licensed to treat atrial fibrillation (a type of abnormal heartbeat) in adults. This prescription antiarrhythmia medicine comes as a capsule that is taken by mouth. It works by slowing down the electrical impulses in the heart. There are also some unapproved, or "off-label," uses for propafenone SR, such as treating Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and heart rhythms problems in children.

An Overview of Uses for Propafenone SR

Propafenone SR (Rythmol SR®) is a prescription antiarrhythmia medication approved to treat atrial fibrillation. It is used to prolong symptom-free periods, extending the time between symptoms of atrial fibrillation by maintaining a normal heartbeat.

Propafenone SR Use for Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (commonly referred to as "a-fib") is a type of irregular heartbeat (heart arrhythmia) that occurs when the top chambers of the heart (the atria) beat in a rapid and disorganized way. A-fib is the most common type of arrhythmia.
Normally, an electrical signal is sent from a special group of cells in the heart called the sinoatrial node (more commonly known as the SA node) through the atria. This signal tells the atria to contract. The signal then moves through a group of cells called the atrioventricular node (AV node) to the ventricles (the lower two chambers of the heart), telling the ventricles to contract.
In atrial fibrillation, the SA node generates several electrical signals that chaotically crisscross the atria, causing different patches of the atrial muscle to contract at different times. This causes the atria to quiver instead of beating in a normal fashion. In addition, the signals to the ventricles are either irregular or incomplete, so the contractions of the atria and the ventricles are no longer synchronized. As a result, blood is not delivered to the body as it should be.
(Click Atrial Fibrillation Complications for information on possible health problems that may be caused by this condition.)
Some people with atrial fibrillation do not experience any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they commonly include:
  • Heart palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing or pounding)
  • Feeling like your heart is fluttering
  • An irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness or discomfort in your chest.
Atrial fibrillation episodes can come and go, or can be permanent. The condition can be categorized as "paroxysmal," "persistent," or "permanent" based on how long the episodes last, and how often they occur.
In paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, the irregular rhythm occurs periodically, and the heart returns to a normal rhythm on its own within a few minutes, hours, or days. Persistent atrial fibrillation is characterized by an irregular rhythm that lasts for longer than 48 hours. The heart will not return to a regular rhythm on its own. Permanent atrial fibrillation occurs when the irregular rhythm continues indefinitely and can no longer be corrected with treatment.
Propafenone SR is used in people who have periodic episodes of atrial fibrillation, including those with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation. The medication has not been studied in people with permanent atrial fibrillation. Propafenone SR will not cure atrial fibrillation, but it can help control the heart's rhythm so that the time between episodes is longer than it would be without the medication.
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Propafenone Extended-Release Information

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