Which antiarrhythmic drugs are best?

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A question and answer from our Atrial Fibrillation live chat.

Dr. Bruce Lindsay, Dr. Marc Gillinov, and Dr. David Van Wagoner from the Cleveland Clinic and Mellanie True Hills, Founder and CEO of StopAfib.org answered many great questions about atrial fibrillation, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Question: In your estimation, which antiarrhythmic drugs are effective while having the least serious side effects? What are the long term effects on the body of these drugs if used for 15-20 years?

Dr. Lindsay:  Each of the antiarrhythmic medications has certain risks. I cannot say which is best because our decision about which drug to use depends on underlying heart disease, whether the patient is prone to slow or very rapid rates, kidney function, liver function, and many other factors. Amiodarone is the only drug that has cumulative toxicity over the course of years. The other drugs can cause side effects, but they do not add up over time.

Look for more questions and answers from this informative web chat.  The transcript will be posted next week at http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/webchat/abnormal-rhythms.aspx