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Amiodarone and Cardioversion
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Amiodarone and Cardioversion

Brief history of my heart health: My age is 66. Pacemaker implanted in November 1994 because of bradycardia and tachycardia. Congestive heart failure in May 2001. Unsuccessful cardioversion in August 2001 with the drug sotalol. I take lanoxin, coumadin, lopressor and synthroid. Also, colchicine when I get attacks of gout.  My heart rate is between 70-80 when I am checked by doctor.

My cardiologist has given me the option of taking amiodarone for 3 weeks and undergoing another cardioversion. I am somewhat afraid to take this drug because of the many side effects.  I think my main concern is the side effect with the lungs.

My questions are:
If I do decide to go this route, should I have the following tests before proceeding - pulmonary function, blood test for lanoxin, pro time, T3, T4, T7 and liver?
What other tests do you recommend?

Can you give me a ball park figure as to how successful or unsuccessful this drug has been?

Thank you very much for your help.

Joni






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Dear Joni,

Amiodarone is a good drug for control of atrial fibrillation that has failed to respond to other medications.  There are potential side effects of amiodarone including: low or high thyroid levels, liver damage, lung damage, corneal deposits and sensitivity  to the sun.  It can also interact with digoxin, coumadin and beta-blockers and these drugs must usually be decreased in their dosages. Often times we will just stop the digoxin (lanoxin) in someone starting amiodarone.  We recommend checking baseline thyroid tests, liver enzymes and function (PT) and pulmonary function testing for all patients prior to starting amiodarone.  Blood tests are usually ordered every several months for the firt year and then twice a year after that.  Eye exams should be obtained once a year and lung testing if there are any problems.
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