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New drug may help with irregular heartbeat

Posted July 13, 2009
Updated July 15, 2009

 Medicine

For 17 years, Joseph Rubin's heart often skipped a beat. He has atrial fibrillation, a form of arrhythmia.

Rubin, 51, loves to work out and has tried every available option to keep his heart beating normally.

"There's nothing out there that's working for me," he said.

Now there is new hope for millions like Rubin. The FDA approved a new drug, Multaq, that has fewer side effects than other medicines. It may be the answer to help the two and a half million Americans with atrial fibrillation.

Sometimes the heart produces extra electric impulses, causing an irregular heart beat. When it's out of rhythm, it doesn't pump blood efficiently. "It can pool and form deadly clots," Dr. Ken Stein, of the Weill Cornell Medical Center, explained.

Multaq failed to get FDA approval in 2006. Tests back then showed it could be dangerous for high-risk patients. It's not recommended for people with serious underlying heart disease, especially older patients.

Doctors often see benefits for others though, because it has fewer side effects than other medications.

"We just can't wait until it's available in the pharmacy to give to people," Stein said.

Rubin knows his heart can skip out of rhythm at any time, but now he knows there's a drug that might fix it.

"It's nice to know there's a backup available," he said. "It's huge."

Patients with arrhythmia should consult with a cardiologist about whether Multaq is right for them.

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  • lovegrandson Jul 15, 2009

    Amiodarone caused my father to have pulmonary fibrosis. If this medicine is in that family you should know the side affects and take corrective action if you suspect pulmonary fibrosis.

  • Pharmboy Jul 15, 2009

    Oh wow. WRAL, the medicine name is "MULTAQ" overseas. Unless the company changed it's brand name for the US, I believe you guys made a typo. Dronedarone, tested in the ATHENA study, is similar to Amiodarone, a little weaker, but less side effects.

  • Wags Jul 14, 2009

    I've been on Sotalol for about three years. Seems to work. Steadies my heart beat...beats really slow now. Pulse rate is 48.

  • MamaDummy Jul 14, 2009

    I hope it is a good drug. I will inquire about it for my 84 year old mother. She has a-fib

  • Chole Jul 14, 2009

    Good to know!! Thank God for medical technology