What Is Flecainide (Tambocor)?
Flecainide is the generic name for the brand-name drug Tambocor, which is used to prevent and treat life-threatening irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).
The medicine belongs to a class of drugs known as anti-arrhythmics. It works by slowing the electrical signals in the heart to stabilize the heart rhythm.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved flecainide in 1985. It's manufactured as Tambocor by 3M.
Flecainide should only be used to treat people with a life-threatening irregular heartbeat.
The medicine contains a black-box warning because in clinical trials, flecainide raised the risk of either death or a second heart attack among trial participants who had already had a heart attack in the past two years.
There's not enough data to say whether flecainide also poses a serious risk to people who haven't had a heart attack in the past two years.
Flecainide contains another black-box warning because it may raise your risk of developing a new, different irregular heartbeat that can be life-threatening.
Tell your doctor if you have atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter (conditions in which the heart's upper chambers don't beat effectively) before taking this medicine. You may be at higher risk for developing a new irregular heartbeat.
Also, tell your doctor if you have, or have had, any of the following before taking flecainide:
- Heart block (a condition in which electrical signals don't pass through the heart normally)
- A pacemaker
- A heart attack, heart failure, or any type of heart disease
- High or low levels of potassium in the blood
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Let your healthcare provider know if you're on a strict vegetarian diet before taking this medicine, as the diet could lead to flecainide being cleared from your body more slowly.
Flecainide may help control your irregular heartbeat, but it won't cure the condition. Continue to take the drug even if you feel well.
Don't stop taking flecainide without first talking to your doctor. Your condition may worsen if you stop taking the medicine suddenly.
Be sure to let your doctor know you're taking flecainide before having any type of surgery, including a dental procedure.
This medicine shouldn't be given to a child unless your doctor tells you to do so.
Pregnancy and Flecainide
It's not known whether flecainide can harm an unborn baby.
Tell your doctor if you're pregnant, or might become pregnant, before taking this medicine.
Flecainide is passed into breast milk. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding while taking the drug.
Flecainide Side Effects
Common Side Effects of Flecainide
Tell your doctor if any of the following side effects become severe or don't go away:
- Vision changes
- Difficulty focusing
- Mild nausea
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Stomach pain
Serious Side Effects of Flecainide
Tell your doctor right away if you experience any of the following serious side effects:
- Signs of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction (hives, rash, itching, chest tightness, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat)
- Chest pain
- A fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme tiredness
- Severe nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Persistent cough with bloody mucus
- Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Flu-like symptoms
Tell your doctor about all prescription, non-prescription, illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional, or dietary drugs you're taking, especially:
Flecainide and Milk
Drinking milk may affect how flecainide is absorbed in the body.
Talk to your doctor about this potential interaction.
Flecainide and Other Interactions
Flecainide may cause dizziness, blurred vision, or lightheadedness.
Use caution when driving or performing any activity that requires alertness.
Flecainide and Alcohol
Alcohol may worsen certain side effects of flecainide.
Talk to your doctor about how much alcohol is safe to consume while taking this medicine.
Flecainide comes as a tablet to take by mouth.
It's typically taken every 12 hours. Some people may take the medication every 8 hours.
Try to take flecainide around the same time each day.
Follow the instructions on your prescription label carefully. Don't take more or less flecainide than your doctor recommends.
Your first dose of flecainide may be given in a medical setting, so that your healthcare provider can monitor your response.
Symptoms of a flecainide overdose may include:
- Slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat
If you suspect an overdose, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately.
You can get in touch with a poison control center at 800-222-1222.
Missed Dose of Flecainide
If you miss a dose of flecainide, take it as soon as you remember.
But if it's almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular medication schedule.
Don't take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose of flecainide.
By Lynn Marks | Medically Reviewed by Robert Jasmer, MD
Latest Update: 2019-01-14
Copyright © 2014 Everyday Health Media, LLC
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