Did You Develop Liver Damage, Vision Damage, or Pulmonary Toxicity After Taking Amiodarone?
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Amiodarone is powerful drug that helps the heart beat normally in people who have disorders that affect how blood flows from the lower chambers of the heart. Amiodarone is marketed and sold under the brand names Pacerone and Cordarone in the United States and was approved by the FDA as a treatment of supraventricular and ventricular arrhythmias.
Amiodarone can be administered orally by pill or through an IV. It is also used as a safety measure for patients undergoing thoracic surgery such as for coronary revascularization or valve replacement. Though not approved by the FDA for atrial arrhythmias, Amiodarone can be used to regulate sinus rhythm and to slow how the bottom chambers of the heart respond to flutters and fibrillations in the top chambers of the heart.
However, even though Amiodarone is a commonly used heart drug used by millions of patients, the components of the medication can accumulate in some organs, tissues, and muscles, which can lead to blindness, thyroid damage, severe liver damage, pulmonary toxicity (a type of severe lung damage), and even death.
Amiodarone Pulmonary Toxicity
Unfortunately, Amiodarone pulmonary toxicity (APT) is a serious and potentially fatal side effect of the medication that damages the lungs and severely decreases your ability to breath and get oxygen. The drug can cause you to develop fluid in the lungs, or between the lungs and the chest wall. APT can also cause nodules or spots on your lungs. When this type of damage occurs, it decreases the lungs’ ability to oxygenate the blood stream and reduces the amount of air you can take into the lungs.
While APT seems to occur more frequently in men and those who already have a lung condition, it can have equally devastating effects on women and those with no preexisting lung issues. Though research shows that APT is more common in people who are taking higher doses, pulmonary toxicity can also occur in patients taking low (200mg per day) doses.*
Amiodarone drugs Cordarone and Pacerone have been associated with a wide variety of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects like pulmonary toxicity, liver damage, blindness, thyroid damage, and even death. Even though the FDA approved these drugs for use only as a last resort, allegations include that the manufacturers are marketing the drugs for off-label uses and as a first line of action for certain cardiac events.
Currently there are numerous pending lawsuits filed against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Par Pharmaceutical Companies, on behalf of individuals or their families who have suffered injury or death as a result of taking Amiodarone. If you or someone you know has been injured, please contact us immediately for a FREE case review to determine if you are eligible for compensation.
If pulmonary toxicity occurs, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough,
- Coughing up blood
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chest pain that is aggravated by breathing
Amiodarone stays in the body for extended period, so it can take months for it to fully leave your system. Because of this, if you develop APT, your physician will probably discontinue treating you with the drug and begin a corticosteroid treatment. You may be on these steroids for months while the drug gradually leaves your body. If APT is caught early, prognosis is good, however, mortality rates can spike to nearly 50 percent respiratory distress develops.*
Amiodarone Induced Hypothyroidism (AIH) and Amiodarone Induced Thyrotoxicosis (AIT)
Unfortunately, this heart drug can also damage your thyroid, which is the butterfly shaped gland in your neck that regulates and controls your metabolism and most other body processes. The high iodine content of the drug can deliver more than 100 times the recommended daily allowance of iodine to the body. Because of the high iodine content of Amiodarone, patients may develop Amiodarone Induced Hypothyroidism (AIH) or Amiodarone Induced Thyrotoxicosis (AIT) during use or even months after the use of the drug is stopped.
People who have developed AIH may present with very general symptoms including:
- brain fog
- difficulty concentrating
- dry skin
- cold sensitivity
- muscle weakness and pain
- joint pain and stiffness
- unexplained weight gain
- hoarse or deep voice
There are two types of AIT. Type 1 AIT is a hyperthyroid condition induced by the drug that may be followed by a period of hypothyroidism. Sometimes the damage to the thyroid resolves in time, but sometimes the person will remain hypothyroid and need treated with thyroid hormone, possibly for the rest of their lives.
Type 2 AIT is a far more serious and damaging condition that is associated with the destruction of actual thyroid tissue, as well as inflammation and fibrosis that can decrease blood flow and vascularity of the thyroid and result in the unregulated release of thyroid hormone, which can lead to a heart issue known as atrial fibrillation.*
If Amiodarone is affecting your thyroid, you may experience the following signs and symptoms of AIT:
- Development of a goiter
- Heart failure
- Sinus tachycardia (fast heart rate)
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate)
Another side effect of Amiodarone use is liver damage, pseudo-alcoholic cirrhosis, and liver failure. Amiodarone is a fat soluble drug that stores in the liver and because it stays in the body for so long, it can continue to cause damage for weeks and even months after the drug is stopped.
As the drug and its metabolites accumulate in the liver, they inhibit normal functionality and cause inflammation of healthy tissue. As the tissues of the liver become ever more damaged, scarring and necrosis occur. This is known as Amiodarone Induced Cirrhosis (AIC).
AIC, like cirrhosis, causes irreversible liver damage, and as the organ loses functionality, other organs and processes in the body falter. In fact, AIC can lead to acute liver failure, increased pressure on the brain, excessive bleeding, a build of up toxins in the body, renal failure, and death. Often, a liver transplant is the only cure.
Unfortunately, there may be no early warning symptoms of AIC, however, as the disease progresses you may experience:
- severe fatigue
- yellowing of the white of your eyes
- yellowing of your skin
- itchy skin
- dark urine
- pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
- swelling of your abdomen, ankles, and legs as fluid builds up in your body
- loss of appetite and nausea
- bloody stools
- changes in your disposition or personality
We are currently investigating claims amiodarone drug manufacturers failed their duty to ensure these drugs were safe for patients before putting them on the market. We believe that the drug makers may have allegedly breached their legal duty to protect the lives of those who depend on these medications, while negligently marketing the drugs for off-label uses.
If you suffered pulmonary toxicity, liver damage, or vision loss after being treated with amiodarone, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries. Contact us today for a free, no obligation case evaluation.
Another serious side effect of Amiodarone is blindness. Research has shown that the drug can cause optic nerve damage. In fact, the majority of people who use amiodarone will develop corneal micro deposits which can interfere with proper vision and inflame and damage the optic nerve.
Studies have shown that some of the most common eye related side effects of this heart drug include:
- Seeing halos
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Eye sensitivity to sunlight
- Loss of eyebrows or eyelashes
However, because of how the drug interacts the processes of the body, it can also cause several serious eye conditions, such as:
- Papilledema –swelling of the optic disc caused by an increase in intracranial pressure
- Scotoma – partial vision loss or blind spot in your field of vision
- Macular degeneration – deterioration of the central portion of the retina leading to severe vision loss
Optic neuropathy is condition that develops slowly and so subtly that serious damage can occur before the condition become apparent. This condition occurs as the fibers of the optic nerve become damaged and die, leading to blindness. This condition may improve after the drug is stopped, but because the drug stays in the body for an extended period of time, damage to the eyes can continue, leading to permanent blindness in one or both eyes.*