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What is Propafenone?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jacquelyn Gilchrist
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Propafenone is a medication that is prescribed to treat patients with arrhythmias. The drug is not considered a cure for the condition, but instead works with the heart and nerve impulses to help maintain a regular heart rate. Only patients with a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia may use propafenone, as it carries the risk of serious side effects. Patients must continue to take this drug for as long as the doctor recommends, even if they feel better.

Before taking propafenone, patients should inform the physician if they have ever had a heart attack. This may increase the risk of a fatal complication from the use of this drug. The doctor will monitor the patient's response to propafenone with regular blood tests and physical examinations, and may also order electrocardiogram (EKG) tests periodically.

Propafenone may cause certain side effects, such as dizziness, headache, and drowsiness. Some patients experience upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and blurred vision. Any persistent or severe side effects should be reported immediately to the doctor. Serious side effects require immediate medical care. Patients should go to the hospital if they experience problems breathing, an irregular heart rate, or chest pain. Fainting, a skin rash, and unusual bruising are possible. Chills, sore throat, and fever have also been reported.

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The possible risks of taking propafenone while pregnant or breastfeeding are unknown. In addition, patients should inform their doctor of other medical conditions they have, such as asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis, as well as other respiratory problems. Bradycardia, myasthenia gravis, and congestive heart failure may preclude a person from taking this medicine. Patients may also be unable to use it if they have kidney or liver disease, an electrolyte disorder, or if they have a pacemaker.

All other prescription and non-prescription drugs the patient is taking should be evaluated for possible interactions. Propafenone may interact with blood thinners, beta blockers, and cyclosporine. It may also interact with digoxin, local anesthetics, and quinidine. Patients may be unable to take certain vitamins along with this medication.

Propafenone is taken orally, and patients taking the extended-release formula must not split, crush, or chew these tablets, as it could cause too much of the drug to be released at once in the body. One dose is usually taken every eight hours, however patients should follow their physician's exact instructions. A typical dosage for a span of 12 hours is 225 milligrams (mg), however patients may take up to 450 mg total in 12 hours. This medicine may be taken with or without a meal, however patients should avoid consuming grapefruit or grapefruit products, as this could increase the effects.

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