Tablet treatment

Tablet treatment may be considered to slow down faster heart rhythms or with the aim of preventing the faster rhythms (tachycardias) from occurring.

The mainstay of treatment for most tachycardias is a beta-blocker. Examples of beta-blockers include bisoprolol, carvedilol, metoprolol and atenolol. Beta-blockers will also slow the resting heart rate, so if the heart is going too slowly then the use of beta-blockers may be limited or ruled out altogether.

Depending on the specific heart rhythm problem, other medications may be suitable. These include calcium channel blockers (such as verapamil or diltiazem), sodium channel blockers (such as flecainide) or amiodarone, which has several different mechanisms of action.

Digoxin can be used when the aim is to slow conduction through the AV node.

The decision as to whether to take medication at all, on an as-and-when (“pill in the pocket”) basis, or regularly, is one to be made by the individual in conjunction with their doctor. It goes without saying that when starting on new medication, checks should be made as to whether there is a reason not to take a specific medication (such as allergies or contraindications) or whether there is any potential for drug interaction with any existing medications. These can also be checked with your GP or pharmacist.