heart drug amiodarone, diabetes drug metformin

The heart drug amiodarone (Pacerone) is prescribed for serious, life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities, such as ventricular fibrillation or unstable ventricular tachycardia. These technical terms describe heart problems that are so rare we suspect the drug is also being prescribed for other, unapproved, purposes such as atrial fibrillation. Amiodarone can trigger a number of serious, even life threatening, side effects.

What Are the Complications of the Heart Drug Amiodarone?

Q. I read your article on the heart drug amiodarone. I wish you would write about the danger of lung complications with amiodarone. Lung toxicity occurs in significant numbers of users. This frequently leads to pulmonary fibrosis, which can be fatal.

Amiodarone even comes with a black box warning. I speak from first-hand experience, having lost my husband due to amiodarone lung toxicity three years ago.

A. We are very sorry for your loss. The FDA cautions that amiodarone should be used only for life-threatening heart rhythm disturbances when other treatments don’t work.

Side Effects of Amiodarone:

This medication has many serious side effects, including pulmonary fibrosis and other lung complications. Diagnostic tests may reveal foamy-looking macrophages, white blood cells that are part of the body’s immune response (Rossi et al, European Respiratory Review, Jul. 19, 2017). The drug appears to damage the cells lining the lungs and airways directly (Wolkove & Baltzan, Canadian Respiratory Journal, Feb. 2009). Up to 5 percent of people taking amiodarone for more than a short time may develop lung complications.

The drug may also cause nerve damage, digestive distress, visual problems, fatigue, heart failure, liver injury, thyroid problems (both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism) and serious skin reactions. A metabolite of amiodarone penetrates body tissues and accumulates in them, which can delay recovery from these problems (Nacca et al, Journal of Thoracic Disease, Dec. 2012).

Although dronedarone (Multaq) is sometimes used in place of of amiodarone, it too can cause liver and heart problems (Chen et al, Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, online Feb. 5, 2018Karkhanis et al, Toxicological Sciences, Jan. 27, 2018). In one case of an 85-year-old man with a serious heart rhythm, the doctors tried dronedarone but he had a fatal reaction (Rizkallah, Kuriachan & Brent Mitchell, BMC Research Notes, Jul. 27, 2016).

Stopping Amiodarone:

Both amiodarone and dronedarone have the potential to interact in a dangerous way with many other medications as well as grapefruit juice. Despite the potential for these frightening side effects, no one should ever stop amiodarone without careful medical supervision. The doctor will want to monitor you closely and may even decide you need to be hospitalized during discontinuation.

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  1. billyjo

    I am having problems. I get short-winded. It just started about two mouths ago. I can’t do nothing like I use to do. I have to stop rest. I can’t wash my car and can’t do anything before I get fatigued. I am on Amiodarone 200mg 1/2 tablet a day. What should I do? My PC is sending me to a Lung specialist. And he said to stop the Amiodarone. Keep in touch.

    • Terry Graedon

      Your doctor should have warned you that lung fibrosis is a possible complication.

  2. alice ave


    I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis 2015. I was put on high doses of prednisone in 2016. In December 2017 I was hospitalized for 14 days with pneumonia. I was on oxygen 24/7 and the bottom lobes of my lungs are destroyed! I lost hope because my doctor said he have no idea how long I have to live but Glory be to Almighty for leading to Best Health Herbal Centre. I purchased pulmonary fibrosis herbal remedy from Best Health Herbal Centre, the herbal remedy slowed the progression within 5 weeks of usage, 80-85% success rate!

  3. Gwen

    I am currently dealing with severe lung issues due to the drug Amiadarone . I am on Oxygen 24/7 and my life has been SERIOUSLY ALTERED ! I was NEVER notified of potential dangers or ever tested to ensure that I was being treated based on the protocols. Very DANGEROUS drug !!!!!!

  4. Sally

    My 80-year-old husband recently dodged an Amiodarone bullet due to the dangers cited in your 2013 article on its toxic side effects, even including cancer. With his paroxysmal AFib, he has experienced only three recorded episodes of tachycardia since his AFib diagnosis in 9/2016 and one of which was last week in the office of his electrophysiologist while checking his heart pacemaker implant (my husband never feels his AFib).

    The doctor immediately called his regular cardiologist who agreed to placing him on 200 mg of Pacerone and did follow the protocol of prescriptions for appropriate testing saying, you are going to think I am placing you on lye, but even aspirin also has serious side effects.”

    Thankfully, he didn’t start the drug because the script never made it to our pharmacist for whatever reason, and I had a chance to look into side effects. He also is on Warfarin. According to your very eye-opening article, Amiodorone was approved by the FDA but without the usual controlled trials. Additionally, a FDA Medwatch reports, ” it was never adequately tested in geriatric patients and would appear to cause more problems in older people.” We are less likely to tolerate the toxicity of this drug which causes the very problems that are more common as we age.

    This is probably why the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Beers list shows this as being a “potentially inappropriate medication in older people according to their strong quality of evidence.” It can also remain in the body for months after discontinuance which is too long a time to suffer a significant and incompatible reaction. No wonder people die waiting to get better!

    We meet with his regular cardiologist this Friday and I will be armed with information as to his suggestions, some of which are from you. Thank you, and please continue to provide us with your unbiased medical research that may conflict with the general medical profession!

  5. Bunny Safron

    I was prescribed Amiodarone in December, 2016, following a quadruple by-pass and have read about the possible life-threatening side effects ever since. I received no education on or warning about the drug from my cardiologist but, after reading this article, intend to check it out. Thank all of you for your input.

  6. Michael

    Apparently, this is also commonly prescribed for a short time after bypass surgery.

  7. Sunny
    Melbourne FL

    My Dad died from Amiadorne toxicity. There was never any counseling on the serious side effects AND as we later found out …. there is an Amiadorne protocol … Serial chest x-rays to monitor for fibrosis, pulmonary function testing at 3 month intervals etc. Unfortunately, none of that was done and a pre-op and pre-Amiadorne chest x-Ray showed fibrosis in the lungs. Several mis-steps including missing the signs of toxicity and putting him back on the drug.

    The hospital paid for his lung autopsy, and we sat with a medical review board …. The doctor was disciplined and we should of taken things a step further but it would not bring Dad back. A very sad time leaving my Mom and his 8 children and their families heartbroken.

    • Bunny S

      I can understand prescribing it short term, but I’ve been taking it for fifteen months. My gut tells me that could be the cause of a deep cough I’ve had for the last few months.

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