What they do

Antiarrhythmic medicines are used to control abnormal heart rhythms. However, your doctor will be aware that several antiarrhythmics may be harmful for people with heart failure and should be avoided.

Antiarrhythmic agents include the following classes of medicines:

Side effects

The side effects of antiarrhythmics depend on which class of medicine you are taking. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about the side effects that may occur with the medicine you have been prescribed.

Most people taking calcium channel blockers have either no side effects or only mild headaches and flushing, which tend to ease over a few days. Ankle swelling is common with certain calcium channel blockers.

Amiodarone increases you skin's sensitivity to sunlight, causing it to burn easily. You should try and avoid exposure to the sun and sunbeds or use a high factor sunscreen. Amiodarone can also affect your eyesight, which can be particularly problematic with driving at night. Long-term therapy may also affect thyroid function which must be monitored regularly.

Top tips

If you are taking a calcium channel blocker you should avoid drinking grapefruit juice as this can alter the effect of the medicine.

Also known as:

Class I agents

  • Flecanide
    (Tambocor®, Tanborcor XL®)
  • Propafenone

Class II agents (beta blockers)

Get more information about beta blocker

  • Acebutolol
    (Sectral®, Prent®)
  • Atenolol
    (Atenix®, Tenormin®)
  • Bisoprolol
    (Soloc®, Vivacor®, Cardicor®, Emcor®, Concor®)
  • Carvedilol
    (Eucardic®, Coreg®)
  • Celiprolol
  • Labetalol
    (Normodyne®, Trandate®, Normozyde®)
  • Metoprolol
    (Betaloc®, Betaloc SA®, Lopressor®, Lopressor LA®, Toprol XL®)
  • Nadolol
  • Nebivolol
  • Oxprenolol
    (Trasicor®, Slow-Trasicor®)
  • Penbutolol
  • Pindolol
  • Propanolol
    (Angilol®, Syprol®, Bedranol SR®, Beta Prograne®, Lopranolol LA®, Slo-Pro®, Inderal®, Half-Inderal LA®, Inderal-LA®)
  • Sotalol
    (Beta-Cardone®, Sotocor®, Betaspace®)
  • Timolol
    (Betim®, Blocadren®)
  • Combination products
    (Co-tenidone®, AtenixCo®, Totaretic®, Kalten®, Tenoret®, Tenoretic®, Trasidrex®, Viskaldix®, Moducren®, Prestim®, Beta-Adalat®, Tenif®)

Class III agents

  • Amiodarone
    (Cordarone X®)
  • Dronedarone
  • Sotalol
    (Beta-Cardone®, Sotocor®)

Class IV agents (calcium channel blockers)

  • Amlodipine
  • Diltiazem
    (Tildiem®, Adizem®, Adizem SR®, Adizem XL®, Angitil SR®, Angitil XL®, Calcicard CR®, Dilcardia SR. Dilzem SR®, Dilzem XL®, Slozem®, Lidiem LA®, Tildiem Retard®, Viazem XL®, Zemtard®)
  • Felodipine
    (Cardioplen XL®, Felogen XL®, Felotens XL®, Keloc SR®, Neofel XL®, Vascalpa®, Plendil®)
  • Isradipine
  • Lacidipine
  • Lercanidipine
  • Nicardipine
    (Cardene SR®)
  • Nifedepine
    (Adalat®, Adalat retard®, Adipine MR®, Adipine XL®, Coracten SR®, Coracten XL Fortipine LA®, Nifedipress MR®, tensipine MR®, Valni XL®)
  • Nimodipine
  • Nisoldipine
    (Syscor MR®)

Class V agents

Get more more information on digoxin.

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