Monitoring the use of amiodarone: compliance with guidelines

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Abstract

Aim

Careful monitoring of amiodarone is recommended because it produces a range of potentially severe adverse effects. The aim of this study was to compare existing practice at our hospitals with the current international guidelines for the use of this drug.

Methods

A retrospective audit was carried out on all patients aged 15 years or older, with a primary discharge diagnosis of tachyarrhythmia and who were commenced and discharged alive on amiodarone between 1 January 2000 and 30 June 2002 from Wellington and Kenepuru Hospitals, Capital and Coast District Health Board, Wellington, New Zealand. The medical records were examined for baseline measurements of renal, liver, thyroid and pulmonary function, the electrocardiogram and chest X-ray. Follow-up arrangements were sought postdischarge. A questionnaire was sent to the general practitioner requesting information on follow-up testing.

Results

During the trial period, 743 patients were admitted with a primary diagnosis of tachyarrhythmia. Eighty-six patients satisfied the entry criteria, and of these 58 were followed for at least 1 year postdischarge. Baseline testing of the electrocardiogram, full blood count and renal function testing was excellent (95–100%). Chest X-rays were carried out in 80% of patients. Baseline testing of thyroid (61%) and liver (44%) function was suboptimal. Two percent of patients had pulmonary function testing and no patient had a formal eye examination. At 6 months, only 32% had thyroid function tests and 41% had liver function tests. At 1 year, of those still on treatment, 35% had both liver and thyroid function tests.

Conclusion

Monitoring of thyroid, liver and pulmonary function tests in patients on amiodarone is less than ideal. This is probably because of lack of awareness of current guidelines.

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