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Pharmacol Rep. 2014 Aug;66(4):545-51. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2014.03.009. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Antiarrhythmic drugs and epilepsy.

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Independent Unit of Experimental Neuropathophysiology, Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland. Electronic address:
Independent Unit of Experimental Neuropathophysiology, Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland.


For a long time it has been suspected that epilepsy and cardiac arrhythmia may have common molecular background. Furthermore, seizures can affect function of the central autonomic control centers leading to short- and long-term alterations of cardiac rhythm. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) has most likely a cardiac mechanism. Common elements of pathogenesis create a basis for the assumption that antiarrhythmic drugs (AADs) may affect seizure phenomena and interact with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Numerous studies have demonstrated anticonvulsant effects of AADs. Among class I AADs (sodium channel blockers), phenytoin is an established antiepileptic drug. Propafenone exerted low anti-electroshock activity in rats. Lidocaine and mexiletine showed the anticonvulsant activity not only in animal models, but also in patients with partial seizures. Among beta-blockers (class II AADs), propranolol was anticonvulsant in models for generalized tonic-clonic and complex partial seizures, but not for myoclonic convulsions. Metoprolol and pindolol antagonized tonic-clonic seizures in DBA/2 mice. Timolol reversed the epileptiform activity of pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) in the brain. Furthermore, amiodarone, the representative of class III AADs, inhibited PTZ- and caffeine-induced convulsions in mice. In the group of class IV AADs, verapamil protected mice against PTZ-induced seizures and inhibited epileptogenesis in amygdala-kindled rats. Verapamil and diltiazem showed moderate anticonvulsant activity in genetically epilepsy prone rats. Additionally, numerous AADs potentiated the anticonvulsant action of AEDs in both experimental and clinical conditions. It should be mentioned, however, that many AADs showed proconvulsant effects in overdose. Moreover, intravenous esmolol and intra-arterial verapamil induced seizures even at therapeutic dose ranges.


Antiarrhythmic drugs; Antiepileptic drugs; Cardiac arrhythmias; Epilepsy; SUDEP

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