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Amiodarone: Uses & Dosage

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Good music has good rhythm. Similarly, a good heart has good rhythm. But if the heart has a bad rhythm, Amiodarone may need to be used. Find out what this medication is in this lesson.

The Heartbeat

Lubb Dub. Lubb Dub. Lubb Dub. Nope, that isn't a ritualistic chant uttered by a cult, it's the sound of your heart beating. Well, it's the sound of a normal heart beating anyways. The heart can actually make different noises if it's got a defect. But this lesson isn't on noises of the heart, it's about a drug called amiodarone and how it's used for a heart that's not working well.

Uses

Amiodarone is a type of antiarrhythmic medication. An antiarrhythmic medication is one that works to correct an improper heartbeat. Specifically, amiodarone is used to correct ventricular arrhythmias. These are abnormal heartbeats that involve the ventricles of the heart.

The ventricles are the two lower, larger, chambers of the heart. The right ventricle pushes blood into the lungs so it can be oxygenated. The left ventricle pushes blood into the aorta, so your entire body can be fed that same oxygenated blood.

Ventricular arrhythmias include ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation.

  • Ventricular tachycardia is an abnormally fast heart rate that starts in the ventricles.
  • Ventricular fibrillation is where the ventricles quiver in a disorganized manner. This means the ventricles can't pump blood.

Both ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation cause a significant number of cases of sudden cardiac arrest. Thus, they are very dangerous forms of arrhythmias and amiodarone is one potential medication that is used to treat them.

Dosage

Example dosage information for amiodarone includes:

  • For some cases of ventricular tachycardia, a 150 mg dose can be given intravenously over 10 minutes. This might be repeated every ten minutes as necessary. Then, 1 mg/min can be given intravenously for 6 hours. After that, 0.5 mg/min can be given intravenously for 18 hours.
  • For some cases of ventricular fibrillation, 300 mg is given intravenously or into the bone marrow.

Why would a medication be injected into the bone marrow instead of a vein? Well, it's not so much 'instead of' and more that there might be no choice. If a vein is not readily accessible, the doctor may inject the medication into the bone marrow in that case. From here the medication will go into systemic (body-wide) circulation as if it were injected into a vein.

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