Cordarone (amiodarone) is a heart drug used to treat a certain type of arrhythmia. Because of its association with pulmonary toxicity, pulmonary fibrosis and other dangerous side effects, Cordarone is considered a “last resort” that should be used after other medications have been tried.

What is Cordarone?

Cordarone is an antiarrhythmic marketed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Pfizer, Inc. It is indicated only for the treatment of certain types of life-threatening recurrent ventricular arrhythmias that have not resonded to other medications or when alternative agents could not be tolerated.

Cordarone should not be taken by patients who:

  • Are allergic to any of its ingredients, including iodine;
  • Have moderate to severe heart block, or fainting or severe dizziness or light-headedness due to slow heartbeat (unless they have a pacemaker);
  • Have a very slow heartbeat;
  • Have experienced shock due to serious heart problems.

Cordarone Side Effects

Common side effects associated with Cordarone include:

  • Abnormal taste or smell
  • Constipation
  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Dizziness
  • Dry eyes
  • Flushing of the face
  • General body discomfort
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping; vomiting

The following severe side effects require medical attention:

  • Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing or swallowing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; unusual hoarseness)
  • Blue-gray discoloring of the skin, especially in the hands or feet
  • Burning, numbness, or tingling
  • Chest, jaw, or arm pain
  • Confusion
  • Cough or coughing up blood
  • Decreased coordination
  • Decreased urination
  • Eye discomfort
  • Fainting
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Fever, chills, or persistent sore throat
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Joint pain; muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness (especially with fever or unusual tiredness)
  • Nervousness
  • New or worsening irregular heartbeat
  • Severe or persistent dizziness; shortness of breath
  • Sunburn-like skin reaction
  • Sluggishness
  • Sudden, severe nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling of the hands, ankles, legs, or feet
  • Liver problems ( dark urine, loss of appetite, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellowing of the eyes or skin)
  • Thyroid problems (eg, feeling of being unusually hot or cold, increased sweating, mental or mood changes, numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, menstrual changes, neck swelling)
  • Trouble walking
  • Uncontrolled shaking or tremor
  • Unexplained or unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Changes in vision
  • Wheezing

Cordarone Black Box Warning

The Cordarone label includes a Black Box Warning regarding:

  • Potentially fatal toxicities, including pulmonary toxicity
  • Liver injuries
  • Worsening arrhythmias
  • Sudden death

Because of these risks, Cordarone is only to be used as a last resort in patients whose condition could prove deadly.

Last Modified: May 6, 2016

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