Multaq side effects and how to avoid them
Multaq is an FDA-approved medication manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. It is classified as an antiarrhythmic and is used to prevent or treat certain types of atrial fibrillation (AFib) in adults. While Multaq is generally well tolerated, there are some potential side effects that people should be aware of. The most common side effects of Multaq include loss of appetite and stomach pain. Less common but more serious side effects can include serious allergic reactions.
Learn more about the side effects of Multaq and what you can do to avoid them.
What is Multaq (dronedarone)?
Multaq is an antiarrhythmic medication used to maintain a normal heart rhythm and reduce hospitalization in patients with paroxysmal or persistent atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter. This medication should not be used if you have permanent atrial fibrillation because of the increased risk of serious side effects.
Does Multaq stop AFIB?
The exact mechanism of action of Multaq is not known. It is thought to work by blocking potassium channels in your heart to help reduce its electrical activity. This helps you stay in a normal sinus rhythm and prevents you from going into AFib.
Multaq is available as 400 mg film-coated tablets. Multaq is typically taken twice daily, once with your morning meal and once with your evening meal. If you miss a dose of Multaq, skip it and take your next dose at its normal time. Do not take 2 doses at once to make up for a missed dose.
Monitor for symptoms of heart failure while on Multaq. Your doctor may pause or discontinue this medication if you have signs of severe heart failure. Your doctor should take blood tests to ensure your potassium and magnesium levels are normal while you are on Multaq. Multaq can affect your heart rhythm and cause QT prolongation. QT prolongation can sometimes cause a fast or irregular heartbeat.
You are advised to read the prescribing information provided with this medicine for the drug information and patient information, and always speak with your healthcare provider for medical advice about any changes to your dose so they can monitor and evaluate your condition.
How long does Multaq stay in your system?
Multaq has a half-life of 13-19 hours, this is the time it takes for half of the Multaq to leave your body. It normally takes around 5 half-lives for this drug to completely leave your body.
Can you ever get off Multaq?
Yes, but you should speak to your doctor before stopping this medication. Stopping Multaq suddenly may worsen your Afib.
Is there an alternative to Multaq?
Your doctor can prescribe other medications if Multaq is not right for you. They will vary by factors such as side effects and cost. Some alternative FDA-approved treatment options include:
- Betapace (sotalol)
- Tikosyn (dofetilide)
- Tambocor (flecainide)
- Pacerone (amiodarone)
- Rythmol SR (propafenone)
Multaq side effects
The most common side effects of Multaq seen in clinical trials when compared to placebo include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Bradycardia (slow heartbeat)
- Unusual tiredness
- Skin reactions such as rash and itching
Multaq can sometimes cause more serious side effects, including:
- Serious, life-threatening allergic reactions (hives, swelling of the face or throat, and shortness of breath)
- Increased risk of death, stroke, or hospitalization
- Ventricular tachycardia
- Lung problems such as a dry cough or shortness of breath
- Liver injury such as abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), and dark urine
- Low magnesium or potassium levels
Contact your healthcare professional for medical advice about any possible side effects you experience while taking Multaq. You can report your adverse reactions to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
What are the long-term side effects of Multaq?
Long-term side effects include a slowed heartbeat, inflammation of the lungs, low potassium and magnesium levels, changes in kidney function, and life-threatening liver failure.
What are Multaq’s side effects in the elderly?
Side effects of Multaq on the elderly include a slowed heartbeat, inflammation of the lungs, low potassium and magnesium levels, changes in kidney function, and life-threatening liver failure.
Does Multaq cause hair loss?
Hair loss is a side effect of taking Multaq, especially in females over the age of 60 that have been taking Multaq for 1 to 6 months.
Does Multaq cause weight gain?
Multaq does not commonly cause weight gain. If you notice unexplained weight gain, swelling, or shortness of breath, contact your doctor immediately, as those could be symptoms of heart failure.
Multaq drug interactions
When Multaq is taken with other medications, it may change how Multaq works or increase the frequency and severity of side effects. You should ask your doctor if any of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take may cause drug interactions with Multaq, including:
- Antiarrhythmics such as amiodarone
- Antifungals such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, or voriconazole
- Antibiotics such as clarithromycin or telithromycin
- HIV medications such as ritonavir
- Potassium-depleting diuretics
- Beta-blockers such as atenolol
- Phenothiazines such as chlorpromazine
- Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline
- St. John’s wort
- Grapefruit juice
Multaq and Eliquis interaction
Dronedarone may increase apixaban blood levels, resulting in an increased risk of bleeding. You may need to monitor and adjust the dose of Multaq more frequently if this is the case.
You should not use Multaq if you have an allergy to dronedarone or any inactive ingredients in this product. You should also avoid this medication if you have any of the following:
- Heart failure
- Atrioventricular (AV) block or sick sinus syndrome unless you have a pacemaker
- Low heart rate
- Using other medications or supplements that prolong the QT interval
- Severe liver disease
Talk to your doctor before taking Multaq if you:
- Have heart problems such as heart failure or arrhythmias
- Have liver problems
- Are taking medications that affect your heart rate or rhythm
- Are pregnant, or plan on becoming pregnant. Women who are able to become pregnant should use birth control
- Are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed
You should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication, including Multaq, to make sure it is safe for you.
How to avoid Multaq side effects
The best way to avoid side effects is to take Multaq as directed by your doctor. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully, and do not take more or less than prescribed.
If you experience any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to recommend ways to help reduce or prevent some of the side effects.
1. Stick to the recommended dosage
Take your prescribed dose of Multaq as recommended by your healthcare professional. Do not take more or less than prescribed.
2. Monitor your blood sugar levels
If you have diabetes, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely while taking Multaq. Check your blood sugar levels as directed by your doctor and report any changes to your doctor immediately.
3. Drink plenty of fluids
Drink eight to 10 glasses of water or fluids every day to help prevent dehydration, which can make side effects worse.
4. Avoid alcohol
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Multaq, as it can increase your risk of side effects.
5. Don’t skip meals
Eating regular meals and snacks will help to prevent low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia).
6. Check your feet
If you have diabetes, check your feet for any cuts, sores, or redness regularly. Tell your doctor if you experience any problems with your feet while taking Multaq.
7. Know the signs and symptoms of Multaq side effects
Signs and symptoms of side effects include loss of appetite and stomach pains. If you experience these symptoms, speak to your doctor for medical advice.
8. Tell your doctor about all medications you’re taking
Be sure to tell your doctor about all other medications you’re taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements, as they can interact with Multaq.
9. Get regular medical checkups
It is important to get regular medical checkups and monitor your medical conditions. Your doctor will monitor your condition and may adjust your dose of Multaq as needed.
A medical professional has reviewed this article.
Dr. Jamie Winn received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2002 from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia, SC. Jamie is a medical reviewer for NiceRx.