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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Probable propafenone-induced transient global amnesia.

OBJECTIVE: To describe a probable case of transient global amnesia caused by propafenone. This adverse effect has not been previously described for this agent. CASE SUMMARY: A 61-year old man with a history of sick sinus syndrome with persistent atrial fibrillation and infrequent premature ventricular contractions was admitted to the hospital for symptoms of amnesia and disorientation to time, place, and date. He began taking propafenone only 6 days prior to admission because of uncontrolled atrial fibrillation and symptoms of fatigue. His atrial fibrillation subsequently had converted to normal sinus rhythm while he received propafenone without adverse effects prior to this episode. His symptoms of amnesia resolved approximately 6-7 hours after discontinuing the propafenone therapy. DISCUSSION: Propafenone is a class 1C antiarrhythmic agent that blocks fast sodium channels in heart muscle and Purkinje fibers similar to the action of encainide and flecainide. It also produces weak beta- and calcium-channel blockade. It has a significant adverse effect profile, with 30-45% of patients reporting cardiac adverse effects and 15-20% experiencing noncardiac events. Central nervous system effects that parallel amnesia have been reported in 10-15% of the patients, including dizziness, ataxia, drowsiness, fatigue, confusion, and paranoia. Propafenone's distribution, clearance, and structural similarity to propranolol contribute to its central nervous system effects. CONCLUSIONS: The rapid resolution of this patient's symptoms after discontinuing propafenone therapy and the absence of recurrence lend credence to the probability of this effect. Comparable adverse effects, such as disorientation and temporary amnesia, have been reported in patients in the analogous agent, propranolol. Consequently, this is a likely, although rare, possible adverse effect with propafenone for which patients should be monitored.[1]


  1. Probable propafenone-induced transient global amnesia. Jones, R.J., Brace, S.R., Vander Tuin, E.L. The Annals of pharmacotherapy. (1995) [Pubmed]
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