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Types of Drugs Used to Treat Arrhythmias

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Emma Lloyd•updated: 9/25/2009

This article will list and discuss the medications used to treat arrhythmias, their intention, side effects and other important information.

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    There are several types of drugs used to treat arrhythmias. These drugs work in a variety of ways and the drug a patient has prescribed will depend on the type of arrhythmia they have. These drugs are used to treat the condition as well as control the symptoms of the condition.

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    Antiarrhythmic Drugs

    This type of drug is most beneficial to patients with premature beats and symptomatic tachycardias. This type of drug can be taken as a long-term treatment by mouth or it can be used in emergency situations when administered intravenously. Antiarrhythmic drugs depress impulse transmission within tissues that are either rapidly conducting or they can help to participate in reentry. These drugs also help to suppress abnormal pacemaker tissue firing. Commonly prescribed antiarrhythmic drugs include Tikosyn, Cordarone, Norpace, Pacerone and Vascor.

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    Calcium Channel Blockers

    This type of drug used to treat arrhythmias help to treat this condition by interrupting the movement of calcium in the blood vessel tissue and heart. They can also be beneficial in treating chest pain and high blood pressure. This type of drug is able to treat a variety of arrhythmias. Commonly prescribed calcium channel blockers include Norvasc, Cardizem, Cardine and Plendil.

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    Beta-blockers are most beneficial in treating cardiac arrhythmias. This type of drug help to treat this condition by decreasing cardiac output and heart rate. This in turn blocks adrenalines effects and controls cardiac arrhythmias. This type of drug can also be used to alleviate chest pain and lower high blood pressure. Commonly prescribed beta-blockers include Toprol, Sectral, Kerlone and Zebeta.

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    This type of drug, also referred to as a blood thinner, is used to reduce blood clotting. This type of drug is most beneficial in treating a type of arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation puts a patient at a higher risk of developing blood clots so by taking this medication they greatly minimize that risk. Those who already have blood clots can take this type of medication to prevent them from getting bigger. This type of medication can also help to reduce a patient's chance of having a blood clot-related stroke. The most commonly prescribed anticoagulant is Warfarin.

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    American Heart Association. (2009). Arrhythmia Medications. Retrieved on September 22, 2009 from Website: