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How do Doctors Use Amiodarone for Atrial Fibrillation?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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Doctors may administer amiodarone for atrial fibrillation orally or through an intravenous drip. Amiodarone is a medication used to treat irregular heartbeat in patients. The drug is used in the United States, as well as Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Amiodarone was developed by researchers in Belgium in 1965, and was originally used in Europe as a treatment for angina. Amiodarone was approved for use in the United States in the mid-1980s.

In atrial fibrillation, the two upper chambers of the heart beat in an irregular manner. A patient who is having an episode may be having heart palpitations or feel short of breath. If the heart is not pumping efficiently, the patient’s body is not being supplied with a full supply of blood. As a result, the patient may also complain of feeling weak. To treat this condition, the doctor may prescribe amiodarone for atrial fibrillation.

If a doctor determines that giving amiodarone for atrial fibrillation is the right treatment option, the dosage given is individualized to the patient. In a case where an oral dose is being given, the doctor can choose to prescribe 200 or 400 milligram tablets in the United States. For a patient being treated in Australia or New Zealand, this drug is available in 100 and 200 milligram tablets.

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When prescribing amiodarone for atrial fibrillation, the doctor needs to keep in mind that this medication will build up in the fat contained in the patient’s body. The individual being treated may need to have up to 10 grams of the medication in his or her body to bring the heart condition under control. The drug will likely be administered for one or two weeks at a higher dose before the patient will be directed to take a daily maintenance dose of 100-200 milligrams per day.

Once atrial fibrillation has been diagnosed, it must be treated appropriately. An individual who is experiencing an irregular heartbeat is at a higher risk for a stroke. If blood is not being pumped through the atria properly, it may clot instead of flowing through the circulatory system properly.

A blood clot flowing through the body could become stuck in an artery supplying the brain. When this happens, it triggers a stroke in the patient. Using a medication like amiodarone for atrial fibrillation helps to restore a regular heartbeat in the patient and makes it much less likely that the blood will pool in the heart’s chambers and produce a clot.

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