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Details with Side Effects
Adverse reactions have been very common in virtually all series of patients treated with Cordarone for ventricular arrhythmias with relatively large doses of drug (400 mg/day and above), occurring in about three-fourths of all patients and causing discontinuation in 7 to 18%. The most serious reactions are pulmonary toxicity, exacerbation of arrhythmia, and rare serious liver injury (see “WARNINGS”), but other adverse effects constitute important problems. They are often reversible with dose reduction or cessation of Cordarone treatment. Most of the adverse effects appear to become more frequent with continued treatment beyond six months, although rates appear to remain relatively constant beyond one year. The time and dose relationships of adverse effects are under continued study.
Neurologic problems are extremely common, occurring in 20 to 40% of patients and including malaise and fatigue, tremor and involuntary movements, poor coordination and gait, and peripheral neuropathy; they are rarely a reason to stop therapy and may respond to dose reductions or discontinuation (see “PRECAUTIONS”). There have been spontaneous reports of demyelinating polyneuropathy.
Gastrointestinal complaints, most commonly nausea, vomiting, constipation, and anorexia, occur in about 25% of patients but rarely require discontinuation of drug. These commonly occur during high-dose administration (i.e., loading dose) and usually respond to dose reduction or divided doses.
Ophthalmic abnormalities including optic neuropathy and/or optic neuritis, in some cases progressing to permanent blindness, papilledema, corneal degeneration, photosensitivity, eye discomfort, scotoma, lens opacities, and macular degeneration have been reported. (See “WARNINGS”.)
Asymptomatic corneal microdeposits are present in virtually all adult patients who have been on drug for more than 6 months. Some patients develop eye symptoms of halos, photophobia, and dry eyes. Vision is rarely affected and drug discontinuation is rarely needed.
Dermatological adverse reactions occur in about 15% of patients, with photosensitivity being most common (about 10%). Sunscreen and protection from sun exposure may be helpful, and drug discontinuation is not usually necessary. Prolonged exposure to Cordarone occasionally results in a blue-gray pigmentation. This is slowly and occasionally incompletely reversible on discontinuation of drug but is of cosmetic importance only.
Cardiovascular adverse reactions, other than exacerbation of the arrhythmias, include the uncommon occurrence of congestive heart failure (3%) and bradycardia. Bradycardia usually responds to dosage reduction but may require a pacemaker for control. CHF rarely requires drug discontinuation. Cardiac conduction abnormalities occur infrequently and are reversible on discontinuation of drug.
The following side-effect rates are based on a retrospective study of 241 patients treated for 2 to 1,515 days (mean 441.3 days).
The following side effects were each reported in 10 to 33% of patients:
Gastrointestinal: Nausea and vomiting.
The following side effects were each reported in 4 to 9% of patients:
Dermatologic: Solar dermatitis/photosensitivity.
Gastrointestinal: Constipation, anorexia.
Ophthalmologic: Visual disturbances.
Hepatic: Abnormal liver-function tests.
Respiratory: Pulmonary inflammation or fibrosis.
The following side effects were each reported in 1 to 3% of patients:
Thyroid: Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism.
Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain.
Hepatic: Nonspecific hepatic disorders.
The following side effects were each reported in less than 1% of patients:
In surveys of almost 5,000 patients treated in open U.S. studies and in published reports of treatment with Cordarone, the adverse reactions most frequently requiring discontinuation of Cordarone included pulmonary infiltrates or fibrosis, paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia, congestive heart failure, and elevation of liver enzymes. Other symptoms causing discontinuations less often included visual disturbances, solar dermatitis, blue skin discoloration, hyperthyroidism, and hypothyroidism.
In postmarketing surveillance, hypotension (sometimes fatal), sinus arrest, anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reaction (including shock), angioedema, urticaria, eosinophilic pneumonia, hepatitis, cholestatic hepatitis, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, renal impairment, renal insufficiency, acute renal failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome in the post-operative setting, bronchospasm, possibly fatal respiratory disorders (including distress, failure, arrest, and ARDS), bronchiolitis obliterans organizing pneumonia (possibly fatal), fever, dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, wheezing, hypoxia, pulmonary infiltrates and/or mass, pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage, pleural effusion, pleuritis, pseudotumor cerebri, parkinsonian symptoms such as akinesia and bradykinesia (sometimes reversible with discontinuation of therapy), syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), thyroid nodules/thyroid cancer, toxic epidermal necrolysis (sometimes fatal), erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, exfoliative dermatitis, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), eczema, skin cancer, vasculitis, pruritus, hemolytic anemia, aplastic anemia, pancytopenia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, agranulocytosis, granuloma, myopathy, muscle weakness, rhabdomyolysis, demyelinating polyneuropathy, hallucination, confusional state, disorientation, delirium, epididymitis, and impotence, also have been reported with amiodarone therapy.
Read the Cordarone (amiodarone hcl tablets) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects
Amiodarone is metabolized to desethylamiodarone by the cytochrome P450 (CYP450) enzyme group, specifically cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) and CYP2C8. The CYP3A4 isoenzyme is present in both the liver and intestines (see “CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Pharmacokinetics”). Amiodarone is an inhibitor of CYP3A4 and p-glycoprotein. Therefore, amiodarone has the potential for interactions with drugs or substances that may be substrates, inhibitors or inducers of CYP3A4 and substrates of p-glycoprotein. While only a limited number of in vivo drug-drug interactions with amiodarone have been reported, the potential for other interactions should be anticipated. This is especially important for drugs associated with serious toxicity, such as other antiarrhythmics. If such drugs are needed, their dose should be reassessed and, where appropriate, plasma concentration measured. In view of the long and variable half-life of amiodarone, potential for drug interactions exists, not only with concomitant medication, but also with drugs administered after discontinuation of amiodarone.
Since amiodarone is a substrate for CYP3A4 and CYP2C8, drugs/substances that inhibit CYP3A4 may decrease the metabolism and increase serum concentrations of amiodarone. Reported examples include the following:
Protease inhibitors are known to inhibit CYP3A4 to varying degrees. A case report of one patient taking amiodarone 200 mg and indinavir 800 mg three times a day resulted in increases in amiodarone concentrations from 0.9 mg/L to 1.3 mg/L. DEA concentrations were not affected. There was no evidence of toxicity. Monitoring for amiodarone toxicity and serial measurement of amiodarone serum concentration during concomitant protease inhibitor therapy should be considered.
Histamine H1 antagonists
Loratadine, a non-sedating antihistaminic, is metabolized primarily by CYP3A4. QT interval prolongation and Torsade de Pointes have been reported with the co-administration of loratadine and amiodarone.
Histamine H2 antagonists
Cimetidine inhibits CYP3A4 and can increase serum amiodarone levels.
Trazodone, an antidepressant, is metabolized primarily by CYP3A4. QT interval prolongation and Torsade de Pointes have been reported with the co-administration of trazodone and amiodarone.
Grapefruit juice given to healthy volunteers increased amiodarone AUC by 50% and Cmax by 84%, and decreased DEA to unquantifiable concentrations. Grapefruit juice inhibits CYP3A4mediated metabolism of oral amiodarone in the intestinal mucosa, resulting in increased plasma levels of amiodarone; therefore, grapefruit juice should not be taken during treatment with oral amiodarone. This information should be considered when changing from intravenous amiodarone to oral amiodarone (see “DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION”).
Amiodarone inhibits p-glycoprotein and certain CYP450 enzymes, including CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2D6, and CYP3A4. This inhibition can result in unexpectedly high plasma levels of other drugs which are metabolized by those CYP450 enzymes or are substrates of p-glycoprotein. Reported examples of this interaction include the following:
Cyclosporine (CYP3A4 substrate) administered in combination with oral amiodarone has been reported to produce persistently elevated plasma concentrations of cyclosporine resulting in elevated creatinine, despite reduction in dose of cyclosporine.
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: The use of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors that are CYP3A4 substrates in combination with amiodarone has been associated with reports of myopathy/rhabdomyolysis.
Limit the dose of simvastatin in patients on amiodarone to 20 mg daily. Limit the daily dose of lovastatin to 40 mg. Lower starting and maintenance doses of other CYP3A4 substrates (e.g., atorvastatin) may be required as amiodarone may increase the plasma concentration of these drugs.
Cardiac glycosides: In patients receiving digoxin therapy, administration of oral amiodarone regularly results in an increase in the serum digoxin concentration that may reach toxic levels with resultant clinical toxicity. Amiodarone taken concomitantly with digoxin increases the serum digoxin concentration by 70% after one day. On initiation of oral amiodarone, the need for digitalis therapy should be reviewed and the dose reduced by approximately 50% or discontinued. If digitalis treatment is continued, serum levels should be closely monitored and patients observed for clinical evidence of toxicity. These precautions probably should apply to digitoxin administration as well.
Other antiarrhythmic drugs, such as quinidine, procainamide, disopyramide, and phenytoin, have been used concurrently with oral amiodarone.
There have been case reports of increased steady-state levels of quinidine, procainamide, and phenytoin during concomitant therapy with amiodarone. Phenytoin decreases serum amiodarone levels. Amiodarone taken concomitantly with quinidine increases quinidine serum concentration by 33% after two days. Amiodarone taken concomitantly with procainamide for less than seven days increases plasma concentrations of procainamide and n-acetyl procainamide by 55% and 33%, respectively. Quinidine and procainamide doses should be reduced by one-third when either is administered with amiodarone. Plasma levels of flecainide have been reported to increase in the presence of oral amiodarone; because of this, the dosage of flecainide should be adjusted when these drugs are administered concomitantly. In general, any added antiarrhythmic drug should be initiated at a lower than usual dose with careful monitoring.
Combination of amiodarone with other antiarrhythmic therapy should be reserved for patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias who are incompletely responsive to a single agent or incompletely responsive to amiodarone. During transfer to amiodarone the dose levels of previously administered agents should be reduced by 30 to 50% several days after the addition of amiodarone, when arrhythmia suppression should be beginning. The continued need for the other antiarrhythmic agent should be reviewed after the effects of amiodarone have been established, and discontinuation ordinarily should be attempted. If the treatment is continued, these patients should be particularly carefully monitored for adverse effects, especially conduction disturbances and exacerbation of tachyarrhythmias, as amiodarone is continued. In amiodarone-treated patients who require additional antiarrhythmic therapy, the initial dose of such agents should be approximately half of the usual recommended dose.
Amiodarone should be used with caution in patients receiving β-receptor blocking agents (e.g., propranolol, a CYP3A4 inhibitor) or calcium channel antagonists (e.g., verapamil, a CYP3A4 substrate, and diltiazem, a CYP3A4 inhibitor) because of the possible potentiation of bradycardia, sinus arrest, and AV block; if necessary, amiodarone can continue to be used after insertion of a pacemaker in patients with severe bradycardia or sinus arrest.
Potentiation of warfarin-type (CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 substrate) anticoagulant response is almost always seen in patients receiving amiodarone and can result in serious or fatal bleeding. Since the concomitant administration of warfarin with amiodarone increases the prothrombin time by 100% after 3 to 4 days, the dose of the anticoagulant should be reduced by one-third to one-half, and prothrombin times should be monitored closely.
Clopidogrel, an inactive thienopyridine prodrug, is metabolized in the liver by CYP3A4 to an active metabolite. A potential interaction between clopidogrel and Cordarone resulting in ineffective inhibition of platelet aggregation has been reported.
Some drugs/substances are known to accelerate the metabolism of amiodarone by stimulating the synthesis of CYP3A4 (enzyme induction). This may lead to low amiodarone serum levels and potential decrease in efficacy. Reported examples of this interaction include the following:
Rifampin is a potent inducer of CYP3A4. Administration of rifampin concomitantly with oral amiodarone has been shown to result in decreases in serum concentrations of amiodarone and desethylamiodarone.
Other substances, including herbal preparations
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) induces CYP3A4. Since amiodarone is a substrate for CYP3A4, there is the potential that the use of St. John's Wort in patients receiving amiodarone could result in reduced amiodarone levels.
Other reported interactions with amiodarone
Fentanyl (CYP3A4 substrate) in combination with amiodarone may cause hypotension, bradycardia, and decreased cardiac output.
Sinus bradycardia has been reported with oral amiodarone in combination with lidocaine (CYP3A4 substrate) given for local anesthesia. Seizure, associated with increased lidocaine concentrations, has been reported with concomitant administration of intravenous amiodarone.
Dextromethorphan is a substrate for both CYP2D6 and CYP3A4. Amiodarone inhibits CYP2D6.
Cholestyramine increases enterohepatic elimination of amiodarone and may reduce its serum levels and t½.
Disopyramide increases QT prolongation which could cause arrhythmia.
Fluoroquinolones, macrolide antibiotics, and azoles are known to cause QTc prolongation. There have been reports of QTc prolongation, with or without TdP, in patients taking amiodarone when fluoroquinolones, macrolide antibiotics, or azoles were administered concomitantly. (See “WARNINGS, Worsened Arrhythmia”.)
Hemodynamic and electrophysiologic interactions have also been observed after concomitant administration with propranolol, diltiazem, and verapamil.
Volatile Anesthetic Agents
(See “PRECAUTIONS, Surgery, Volatile Anesthetic Agents”).
In addition to the interactions noted above, chronic ( > 2 weeks) oral Cordarone administration impairs metabolism of phenytoin, dextromethorphan, and methotrexate.
Since antiarrhythmic drugs may be ineffective or may be arrhythmogenic in patients with hypokalemia, any potassium or magnesium deficiency should be corrected before instituting and during Cordarone therapy. Use caution when coadministering Cordarone with drugs which may induce hypokalemia and/or hypomagnesemia.
Read the Cordarone Drug Interactions Center for a complete guide to possible interactions
Last reviewed on RxList: 2/6/2014
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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