The highly coordinated electrical activity of the cardiac cells ensures the rhythmic contractions of the heart. A disruption in this electrical activity leads to irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia.
Primarily, there are two types of arrhythmia: tachycardia and bradycardia. Tachycardia refers to the condition wherein the resting heart rate is greater than 100 bpm (beats per minute), whereas bradycardia is characterized by a resting heart rate below 60 bpm.
The major causes include coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy (altered cardiac muscles), cardiac injury, etc. Other causes include diabetes, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, too much alcohol, smoking, stress, electric shock, etc. Cardiac arrhythmia may also arise a complication of heart attack, as well as heart surgeries, or may be manifested as an adverse effect of certain medicines, including some herbal formulations.
The most noticeable sign of heart arrhythmia is high or below normal heart rate. Most people experience a fluttering sensation and discomfort in their chest. Other symptoms include chest pain, dizziness, breathing difficulty, and fainting.
Many options are available in order to deal with the symptoms of heart arrhythmia. Some of the recommended medicines have been listed below.
These drugs are useful to reduce symptoms of tachycardia. The standard list of prescribed drugs under this class is as follows:
- Amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone)
- Bepridil Hydrochloride (Vascor)
- Disopyramide (Norpace)
- Dofetilide (Tikosyn)
- Dronedarone (Multaq)
- Flecainide (Tambocor)
- Ibutilide (Corvert)
- Lidocaine (Xylocaine)
- Procainamide (Procan, Procanbid)
- Propafenone (Rythmol)
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Quinidine (many trade names)
- Sotalol (Betapace)
- Tocainide (Tonocarid)
Calcium channel blockers
These medicines prevent the entry of calcium into the cells of the heart as well as blood vessels, thus relaxing the blood vessels, and lowering blood pressure. Commonly prescribed calcium channel blockers to manage heart arrhythmia include:
- Amlodipine (Norvasc)
- Diltiazem (Cardizem LA, Tiazac)
- Isradipine (DynaCirc CR)
- Nicardipine (Cardene SR)
- Nifedipine (Procardia, Procardia XL, Adalat CC)
- Nisoldipine (Sular)
- Verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Covera-HS)
These drugs block the effects of adrenaline, thus reducing cardiac output and hypertension. This allows them to be used in the treatment of heart arrhythmia. Beta blockers that are commonly prescribed include:
- Acebutolol (Sectral)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Nebivolol (Bystolic)
- Propranolol (Inderal LA)
These are known as blood thinning medications, and they prevent blood from clotting or coagulating. Use of these drugs is important to prevent complications of heart arrhythmia.
The condition of mild cardiac arrhythmia is often harmless. In most cases, people do not require such drugs. However, if it starts occurring frequently, or the symptoms become far from being tolerable, appropriate medical consultation and medication becomes imperative. If ignored, it may give rise to complications, and may even prove to be fatal.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.