Several types of irregular heart rhythms can be treated with Betapace. Uses of this medication include the treatment of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. It should be reserved for people with severe symptoms who have not responded to other treatments. There are currently no approved uses for children.
Betapace® (sotalol hydrochloride) is a prescription beta blocker medication approved for the treatment of the following medical conditions:
- Atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter that causes significant symptoms
- Life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.
Betapace AF® is approved to treat atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, while regular Betapace is approved to treat other arrhythmias. There are no important differences between the two, except Betapace AF comes with a special patient package insert with information for people with atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter.
Using Betapace for Atrial Fibrillation or Flutter
Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are two types of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) that occur when the electrical system that controls your heartbeat is no longer working properly. They both occur in the atria of the heart (the upper chambers).
Symptoms may include:
- An irregular heart rhythm
- A rapid heart rate
- Heart palpitations (the sensation that your heart is racing or pounding)
- Feeling like your heart is fluttering (see Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation).
With atrial fibrillation, both the heart rhythm and rate are abnormal; with atrial flutter, only the heart rate is abnormal.
These arrhythmias may cause certain complications, such as:
The goals of treatment for atrial fibrillation usually include one or more of the following:
- Return the heartbeat to a normal sinus rhythm, if possible
- Control the heart rate
- Prevent blood clots from forming by prescribing an anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication, such as warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®)
- Treat the underlying causes of the abnormal rhythm and any atrial fibrillation complications
- Reduce the risk factors that may lead to a worsening of the condition.
Because Betapace AF can actually cause life-threatening arrhythmias, it should be reserved for people with severe symptoms who have not responded to other treatments.