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Pronounced: RITH-mol
Generic name: Propafenone

Why is this drug prescribed: Rythmol is used to help correct certain life-threatening heartbeat irregularities (ventricular arrhythmias).

Most important fact about this drug: There is a possibility that Rythmol may cause new heartbeat irregularities or make the existing ones worse. Rythmol is therefore used only for serious problems, and should be accompanied by periodic electrocardiograms (EKGs) prior to and during treatment. Discuss this with your doctor.

How should you take this medication: Rythmol may be taken with food or on an empty stomach. Take Rythmol exactly as prescribed. It works best when there is a constant amount of the drug in the blood, so you should take it at evenly spaced intervals. --If you miss a dose... Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, take the forgotten dose as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose or more than 4 hours have passed, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Never take a double dose. --Storage instructions... Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, away from direct light, at room temperature.

What side effects may occur: Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Rythmol. The most common side effects affect the digestive, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. The most serious are heartbeat abnormalities. More common side effects may include: Constipation, dizziness, heartbeat abnormalities, nausea, unusual taste in the mouth, vomiting Other side effects may include: Abdominal pain or cramps, anemia, angina (chest pain), anxiety, blood disorders, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, bruising, cardiac arrest, coma, confusion, congestive heart failure, depression, diarrhea, dreaming abnormalities, drowsiness, dry mouth, eye irritation, fainting or near fainting, fatigue, fever, flushing, gas, hair loss, headache, heart palpitations, heartbeat abnormalities (rapid, irregular, slow), hot flashes, impotence, increased blood sugar, indigestion, inflamed esophagus, stomach, or intestines, insomnia, itching, joint pain, kidney disease, kidney failure, lack of coordination, liver dysfunction, loss of appetite, loss of balance, low blood pressure, memory loss, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, numbness, pain, psychosis, rash, red or purple spots on the skin, ringing in the ears, seizures, speech abnormalities, sweating, swelling due to fluid retention, tingling or pins and needles, tremor, unusual smell sensations, vertigo, vision abnormalities, weakness

Why should this drug not be prescribed: Do not take Rythmol if you have ever had an allergic reaction to or are sensitive to it. Your doctor will not prescribe Rythmol if you are suffering from any of the following conditions: Abnormally slow heartbeat Certain heartbeat irregularities, such as atrioventricular block or "sick sinus" syndrome, that have not been corrected by a pacemaker Cardiogenic shock (shock due to a weak heart) Chronic bronchitis or emphysema Congestive heart failure that is not well controlled Mineral (electrolyte) imbalance Severe low blood pressure

Special warnings about this medication: If you have congestive heart failure, this condition must be brought under full medical control before you start taking Rythmol. If you have a pacemaker, the pacemaker's settings must be monitored--and possibly reprogrammed--while you are taking Rythmol. There is some risk that Rythmol may interfere with your body's normal ability to manufacture blood cells. Too few white blood cells may cause signs and symptoms that mimic infection. If you experience fever, chills, or sore throat while taking Rythmol--especially during the first 3 months of treatment--notify your doctor right away. Rythmol may cause a lupus-like illness characterized by rashes and arthritic symptoms. If you have been taking Rythmol and testing shows that your blood contains ANA (antinuclear antibodies), your doctor may want to discontinue the medication.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: If Rythmol is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Rythmol with the following: Beta blockers such as Inderal and Lopressor Cimetidine (Tagamet) Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) Digoxin (Lanoxin) Local anesthetics (such as Novocain used during dental work) Quinidine (Cardioquin) Rifampin (Rifadin) Theophylline (Theo-Dur, Uni-Dur) Warfarin (blood thinners such as Coumadin)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately. Because of a possible risk of birth defects, Rythmol is not recommended during pregnancy unless the benefit to the mother outweighs the potential risk to the unborn baby. It is not known whether Rythmol appears in breast milk. You are advised not to take Rythmol if you are nursing a baby. If treatment with Rythmol is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to stop breastfeeding until your treatment is finished.

Recommended dosage: ADULTS: In most cases, treatment with Rythmol begins in the hospital. Your doctor will tailor your dosage according to your individual condition and the presence of other disorders. The usual initial dose of Rythmol is 150 milligrams every 8 hours. Your doctor may increase the dosage depending on how you respond to the initial dosage. The maximum recommended daily dosage of Rythmol is 900 milligrams. CHILDREN: Safety and effectiveness have not been established in children. OLDER ADULTS: The doctor will increase the dosage more slowly at the beginning of treatment.

Overdosage: Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose of Rythmol, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of Rythmol overdose, which are usually most severe within the first 3 hours of taking the medication, may include: Convulsions (rarely), heartbeat irregularities, low blood pressure, sleepiness

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