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.

In some rare cases, amiodarone may increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, causing you to burn more easily. You should try to avoid exposure to the sun and sunbeds and use a high-factor sunscreen. Long-term treatment may also affect thyroid function, which must be monitored regularly. Click here for more information on the side effects of beta blockers.

Top tips

Certain drugs used in antiarrhythmics may have an interaction with grapefruit juice, altering the effect of this medicine. Your doctor will be able to explain this to you.

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.

Return to Heart failure medicines

ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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