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Hypotension is the most common adverse effect seen with Cordarone I.V. In clinical trials, treatment-emergent, drug-related hypotension was reported as an adverse effect in 288 (16%) of 1836 patients treated with Cordarone I.V. Clinically significant hypotension during infusions was seen most often in the first several hours of treatment and was not dose related, but appeared to be related to the rate of infusion. Hypotension necessitating alterations in Cordarone I.V. therapy was reported in 3% of patients, with permanent discontinuation required in less than 2% of patients.
Hypotension should be treated initially by slowing the infusion; additional standard therapy may be needed, including the following: vasopressor drugs, positive inotropic agents, and volume expansion. The initial rate of infusion should be monitored closely and should not exceed that prescribed in DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.
Bradycardia and AV Block
Drug-related bradycardia occurred in 90 (4.9%) of 1836 patients in clinical trials while they were receiving Cordarone I.V. for life-threatening VT/VF; it was not dose-related. Bradycardia should be treated by slowing the infusion rate or discontinuing Cordarone I.V. In some patients, inserting a pacemaker is required. Despite such measures, bradycardia was progressive and terminal in 1 patient during the controlled trials. Patients with a known predisposition to bradycardia or AV block should be treated with Cordarone I.V. in a setting where a temporary pacemaker is available.
Elevations of blood hepatic enzyme valuesalanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT)are seen commonly in patients with immediately life-threatening VT/VF. Interpreting elevated AST activity can be difficult because the values may be elevated in patients who have had recent myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, or multiple electrical defibrillations. Approximately 54% of patients receiving Cordarone I.V. in clinical studies had baseline liver enzyme elevations, and 13% had clinically significant elevations. In 81% of patients with both baseline and on-therapy data available, the liver enzyme elevations either improved during therapy or remained at baseline levels. Baseline abnormalities in hepatic enzymes are not a contraindication to treatment.
Acute, centrolobular confluent hepatocellular necrosis leading to hepatic coma, acute renal failure, and death has been associated with the administration of Cordarone I.V. at a much higher loading dose concentration and much faster rate of infusion than recommended in Dosage and Administration. Therefore, the initial concentration and rate of infusion should be monitored closely and should not exceed that prescribed in Dosage and Administration (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
In patients with life-threatening arrhythmias, the potential risk of hepatic injury should be weighed against the potential benefit of Cordarone I.V. therapy, but patients receiving Cordarone I.V. should be monitored carefully for evidence of progressive hepatic injury. Consideration should be given to reducing the rate of administration or withdrawing Cordarone I.V. in such cases.
Like all antiarrhythmic agents, Cordarone I.V. may cause a worsening of existing arrhythmias or precipitate a new arrhythmia. Proarrhythmia, primarily torsade de pointes (TdP), has been associated with prolongation by Cordarone I.V. of the QTc interval to 500 ms or greater. Although QTc prolongation occurred frequently in patients receiving Cordarone I.V., torsade de pointes or new-onset VF occurred infrequently (less than 2%). Patients should be monitored for QTc prolongation during infusion with Cordarone I.V. Combination of amiodarone with other antiarrhythmic therapy that prolongs the QTc should be reserved for patients with life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias who are incompletely responsive to a single agent.
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 DRUG INTERACTIONS, Other reported interactions with amiodarone.)
The need to co-administer amiodarone with any other drug known to prolong the QTc interval must be based on a careful assessment of the potential risks and benefits of doing so for each patient.
A careful assessment of the potential risks and benefits of administering Cordarone I.V. must be made in patients with thyroid dysfunction due to the possibility of arrhythmia breakthrough or exacerbation of arrhythmia, which may result in death, in these patients.
Early-onset pulmonary toxicity
There have been postmarketing reports of acute-onset (days to weeks) pulmonary injury in patients treated with Cordarone I.V. Findings have included pulmonary infiltrates and/or mass on X-ray, bronchospasm, wheezing, fever, dyspnea, cough, hemoptysis, and hypoxia. Some cases have progressed to respiratory failure and/or death.
Two percent (2%) of patients were reported to have adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) during clinical studies involving 48 hours of therapy. ARDS is a disorder characterized by bilateral, diffuse pulmonary infiltrates with pulmonary edema and varying degrees of respiratory insufficiency. The clinical and radiographic picture can arise after a variety of lung injuries, such as those resulting from trauma, shock, prolonged cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and aspiration pneumonia, conditions present in many of the patients enrolled in the clinical studies. There have been postmarketing reports of ARDS in Cordarone I.V. patients. Cordarone I.V. may play a role in causing or exacerbating pulmonary disorders in those patients.
Postoperatively, occurrences of ARDS have been reported in patients receiving oral Cordarone therapy who have undergone either cardiac or noncardiac surgery. Although patients usually respond well to vigorous respiratory therapy, in rare instances the outcome has been fatal. Until further studies have been performed, it is recommended that FiO2 and the determinants of oxygen delivery to the tissues (e.g., SaO2, PaO2) be closely monitored in patients on Cordarone.
Only 1 of more than 1000 patients treated with Cordarone I.V. in clinical studies developed pulmonary fibrosis. In that patient, the condition was diagnosed 3 months after treatment with Cordarone I.V., during which time she received oral Cordarone. Pulmonary toxicity is a well-recognized complication of long-term Cordarone use (see labeling for oral Cordarone).
Loss of Vision
Cases of optic neuropathy and/or optic neuritis, usually resulting in visual impairment, have been reported in patients treated with oral amiodarone. In some cases, visual impairment has progressed to permanent blindness. Amiodarone I.V. is indicated for initiation of treatment and prophylaxis of frequently recurring ventricular fibrillation (VF) and hemodynamically unstable ventricular tachycardia (VT) in patients refractory to other therapy and can also can be used to treat patients with VT/VF for whom oral amiodarone is indicated, but who are unable to take oral medication. Optic neuropathy and/or neuritis may occur at any time following initiation of therapy. A causal relationship to the drug has not been clearly established. If symptoms of visual impairment appear, such as changes in visual acuity and decreases in peripheral vision, prompt ophthalmic examination is recommended. Appearance of optic neuropathy and/or neuritis calls for re-evaluation of amiodarone therapy. The risks and complications of antiarrhythmic therapy with amiodarone must be weighed against its benefits in patients whose lives are threatened by cardiac arrhythmias. Regular ophthalmic examination, including fundoscopy and slit-lamp examination, is recommended during administrations of amiodarone. (See ADVERSE REACTIONS.)
See labeling for oral Cordarone. There has been limited experience in patients receiving Cordarone I.V. for longer than 3 weeks.
Cordarone-induced hyperthyroidism may result in thyrotoxicosis and/or the possibility of arrhythmia breakthrough or aggravation. There have been reports of death associated with amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis. IF ANY NEW SIGNS OF ARRHYTHMIA APPEAR, THE POSSIBILITY OF HYPERTHYROIDISM SHOULD BE CONSIDERED (see PRECAUTIONS, Thyroid Abnormalities).
Although Cordarone use during pregnancy is uncommon, there have been a small number of published reports of congenital goiter/hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism associated with its oral administration. If Cordarone I.V. is administered during pregnancy, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
Cordarone I.V. should be administered only by physicians who are experienced in the treatment of life-threatening arrhythmias, who are thoroughly familiar with the risks and benefits of Cordarone therapy, and who have access to facilities adequate for monitoring the effectiveness and side effects of treatment.
Cordarone inhibits peripheral conversion of thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3) and may cause increased thyroxine levels, decreased T3 levels, and increased levels of inactive reverse T3 (rT3) in clinically euthyroid patients. It is also a potential source of large amounts of inorganic iodine. Because of its release of inorganic iodine, or perhaps for other reasons, Cordarone can cause either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Thyroid function should be monitored prior to treatment and periodically thereafter, particularly in elderly patients, and in any patient with a history of thyroid nodules, goiter, or other thyroid dysfunction. Because of the slow elimination of Cordarone and its metabolites, high plasma iodide levels, altered thyroid function, and abnormal thyroid-function tests may persist for several weeks or even months following Cordarone withdrawal.
Hypothyroidism has been reported in 2 to 4% of patients in most series, but in 8 to 10% in some series. This condition may be identified by relevant clinical symptoms and particularly by elevated serum TSH levels. In some clinically hypothyroid amiodarone-treated patients, free thyroxine index values may be normal. Hypothyroidism is best managed by Cordarone dose reduction and/or thyroid hormone supplement. However, therapy must be individualized, and it may be necessary to discontinue Cordarone├? Tablets in some patients.
Hyperthyroidism occurs in about 2% of patients receiving Cordarone, but the incidence may be higher among patients with prior inadequate dietary iodine intake. Cordarone-induced hyperthyroidism usually poses a greater hazard to the patient than hypothyroidism because of the possibility of thyrotoxicosis and/or arrhythmia breakthrough or aggravation, all of which may result in death. There have been reports of death associated with amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis. IF ANY NEW SIGNS OF ARRHYTHMIA APPEAR, THE POSSIBILITY OF HYPERTHYROIDISM SHOULD BE CONSIDERED.
Hyperthyroidism is best identified by relevant clinical symptoms and signs, accompanied usually by abnormally elevated levels of serum T3 RIA, and further elevations of serum T4, and a subnormal serum TSH level (using a sufficiently sensitive TSH assay). The finding of a flat TSH response to TRH is confirmatory of hyperthyroidism and may be sought in equivocal cases. Since arrhythmia breakthroughs may accompany Cordarone-induced hyperthyroidism, aggressive medical treatment is indicated, including, if possible, dose reduction or withdrawal of Cordarone.
The institution of antithyroid drugs, β-adrenergic blockers and/or temporary corticosteroid therapy may be necessary. The action of antithyroid drugs may be especially delayed in amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis because of substantial quantities of preformed thyroid hormones stored in the gland. There have been reports of death associated with amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis. Radioactive iodine therapy is contraindicated because of the low radioiodine uptake associated with amiodarone-induced hyperthyroidism. Cordarone-induced hyperthyroidism may be followed by a transient period of hypothyroidism (see WARNINGS, Thyrotoxicosis).
When aggressive treatment of amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis has failed or amiodarone cannot be discontinued because it is the only drug effective against the resistant arrhythmia, surgical management may be an option. Experience with thyroidectomy as a treatment for amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis is limited, and this form of therapy could induce thyroid storm. Therefore, surgical and anesthetic management require careful planning.
Close perioperative monitoring is recommended in patients undergoing general anesthesia who are on amiodarone therapy as they may be more sensitive to the myocardial depressant and conduction defects of halogenated inhalational anesthetics.
No carcinogenicity studies were conducted with Cordarone I.V. However, oral Cordarone caused a statistically significant, dose-related increase in the incidence of thyroid tumors (follicular adenoma and/or carcinoma) in rats. The incidence of thyroid tumors in rats was greater than the incidence in controls even at the lowest dose level tested, i.e., 5 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.08 times the maximum recommended human maintenance dose*).
Mutagenicity studies conducted with amiodarone HCl (Ames, micronucleus, and lysogenic induction tests) were negative.
No fertility studies were conducted with Cordarone I.V. However, in a study in which amiodarone HCl was orally administered to male and female rats, beginning 9 weeks prior to mating, reduced fertility was observed at a dose level of 90 mg/kg/day (approximately 1.4 times the maximum recommended human maintenance dose*).
*600 mg in a 50 kg patient (dose compared on a body surface area basis)
Category D. See WARNINGS, Neonatal Hypo- or Hyperthyroidism. In addition to causing infrequent congenital goiter/hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, amiodarone has caused a variety of adverse effects in animals.
In a reproductive study in which amiodarone was given intravenously to rabbits at dosages of 5, 10, or 25 mg/kg per day (about 0.1, 0.3, and 0.7 times the maximum recommended human dose [MRHD] on a body surface area basis), maternal deaths occurred in all groups, including controls. Embryotoxicity (as manifested by fewer full-term fetuses and increased resorptions with concomitantly lower litter weights) occurred at dosages of 10 mg/kg and above. No evidence of embryotoxicity was observed at 5 mg/kg and no teratogenicity was observed at any dosages.
In a teratology study in which amiodarone was administered by continuous i.v. infusion to rats at dosages of 25, 50, or 100 mg/kg per day (about 0.4, 0.7, and 1.4 times the MRHD when compared on a body surface area basis), maternal toxicity (as evidenced by reduced weight gain and food consumption) and embryotoxicity (as evidenced by increased resorptions, decreased live litter size, reduced body weights, and retarded sternum and metacarpal ossification) were observed in the 100 mg/kg group.
Cordarone├? I.V. should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit to the mother justifies the risk to the fetus.
Amiodarone and one of its major metabolites, desethylamiodarone (DEA), are excreted in human milk, suggesting that breast-feeding could expose the nursing infant to a significant dose of the drug. Nursing offspring of lactating rats administered amiodarone have demonstrated reduced viability and reduced body weight gains. The risk of exposing the infant to amiodarone should be weighed against the potential benefit of arrhythmia suppression in the mother. The mother should be advised to discontinue nursing.
Labor and Delivery
It is not known whether the use of Cordarone during labor or delivery has any immediate or delayed adverse effects. Preclinical studies in rodents have not shown any effect on the duration of gestation or on parturition.
The safety and efficacy of Cordarone in the pediatric population have not been established; therefore, its use in pediatric patients is not recommended. In a pediatric trial of 61 patients, aged 30 days to 15 years, hypotension (36%), bradycardia (20%), and atrio-ventricular block (15%) were common dose-related adverse events and were severe or life-threatening in some cases. Injection site reactions were seen in 5 (25%) of the 20 patients receiving Cordarone I.V. through a peripheral vein irrespective of dose regimen.
Cordarone I.V. contains the preservative benzyl alcohol (see DESCRIPTION). There have been reports of fatal "gasping syndrome" in neonates (children less than one month of age) following the administration of intravenous solutions containing the preservative benzyl alcohol. Symptoms include a striking onset of gasping respiration, hypotension, bradycardia, and cardiovascular collapse.
Clinical studies of Cordarone I.V. did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
Last reviewed on RxList: 7/22/2005
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Cordarone IV Information
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