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The Role of Intravenous Amiodarone in the Management of Cardiac Arrhythmias

Aseem D. Desai, MD; Sung Chun, MD; and Ruey J. Sung, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California. Requests for Reprints: Ruey J. Sung, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA 94305. Current Author Addresses: Drs.Desai, Chun, and Sung: Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA 94305.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(4):294-303. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-127-4-199708150-00007
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Purpose: To review the electropharmacology, clinical applications, side effects, and hemodynamic profile of intravenous amiodarone.

Data Sources: The MEDLINE database was searched for English-language material, including reports of clinical trials and in vivo studies, review articles, and abstracts presented at national symposia, that was published between 1985 and 1996. Bibliographies of textbooks and articles were also examined.

Study Selection: Studies that reported on the efficacy, toxicity, and hemodynamic profile of intravenous amiodarone and studies that examined the pharmacologic behavior of intravenous amiodarone in laboratory models were reviewed.

Data Extraction: Study design and quality and relevant data on efficacy of suppression and treatment of arrhythmias with oral and intravenous amiodarone therapy, the reported mechanisms of antiarrhythmic effect, and hemodynamic changes seen with therapy were analyzed.

Data Synthesis: Amiodarone is a unique antiarrhythmic agent that is now available in oral and intravenous forms in the United States. The use of intravenous amiodarone in the short-term treatment of life-threatening or hemodynamically unstable rhythm disturbances has generated much interest. Amiodarone has many electropharmacologic actions, some of which differ between the oral and intravenous forms. The wide clinical application of amiodarone includes treatment and prevention of supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias and arrhythmias related to myocardial infarction. Intravenous amiodarone is effective for supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias that are resistant to other antiarrhythmic agents. The effectiveness of intravenous amiodarone as short-term treatment also suggests that the drug has an important role in protocols of advanced cardiac life support. Intravenous amiodarone seems to have an overall favorable hemodynamic profile and does not produce many of the unwanted long-term side effects associated with oral therapy.

Conclusion: Intravenous amiodarone shows much promise for the short-term treatment of unstable arrhythmias. Its favorable hemodynamic effects and minimal short-term side effects make it an attractive option in the management of cardiac arrhythmias.

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