Beneficial effects of low dose amiodarone in patients with congestive cardiac failure: a placebo-controlled trial

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1989 Dec;14(7):1768-74. doi: 10.1016/0735-1097(89)90030-2.


The effects of amiodarone in a low dosage (200 mg every 8 h for 2 weeks, then 200 mg/day) was assessed in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial in 34 patients with a history of severe congestive heart failure but no sustained ventricular arrhythmia. Left ventricular ejection fraction, treadmill exercise tolerance and 48 h electrocardiographic monitoring were assessed before and repeatedly after beginning amiodarone or placebo therapy over 6 months, and side effects were monitored. In patients receiving amiodarone, the ejection fraction increased significantly from 19 +/- 7 to 29 +/- 15% at 6 months (p less than 0.01 from baseline), but not significantly in 14 placebo-treated patients (18 +/- 5 to 22 +/- 9%). Exercise tolerance increased significantly in amiodarone-treated patients (median 433 s to 907 s, p less than 0.05), but not significantly in placebo-treated patients (757 to 918 s). Nonsustained ventricular tachycardia was present in 88% of amiodarone-treated patients before, but in only 21% of patients after 6 months of treatment (p = 0.06); it was seen in 43% of placebo-treated patients at baseline and in 50% after 6 months. Fifty percent of amiodarone-treated patients had side effects (principally nausea) and the drug was withdrawn in 28% of cases; no life-threatening effects were seen. Low dose amiodarone appears to have a multifaceted potential to produce benefits in arrhythmia control, exercise tolerance and ventricular function in patients with a history of severe congestive heart failure, but better control of side effects (principally nausea) appears essential. Effects on mortality could not be determined from this study; such assessment requires a larger cohort of patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amiodarone / administration & dosage*
  • Amiodarone / adverse effects
  • Amiodarone / therapeutic use
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / drug therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion
  • Respiration / drug effects
  • Stroke Volume / drug effects
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects


  • Amiodarone