Amiodarone is a heart drug with extremely severe side effects, including pulmonary toxicity (lung damage), vision loss, blindness, and even death.
Amiodarone is a medication that treats severe irregular heart rhythm. The problem is that it is often prescribed “off-label” to patients who are not warned about its severe, life-threatening side effects.
FDA Safety Warning
In 2005, the FDA issued a Safety Communication to warn that amiodarone can be highly toxic in many areas of the body. Liver damage is another common side effect of amiodarone. It is usually mild, but some patients have died from liver disease.
The most serious side effect is lung damage. In some studies, 17% of patients on 400-mg/day doses developed pulmonary toxicity, which has a 10% risk of death. The symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Irritating cough
- Coughing up blood
Worse Irregular Heart Rhythm
Amiodarone can also worsen irregular heart rhythm. About 2-5% of patients develop a condition in which electrical signals to the heart are blocked, resulting in very slow heartbeat. The symptoms may include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations
Vision loss from amiodarone usually develops over hours or days. In a study of nearly 300 reports, 20% of patients went permanently blind in at least one eye. The symptoms include:
- Pain around the eye
- Eye movement is painful
- Vision loss
- Loss of color vision