Warning about flecainade

I started an AF at 5pm on Monday so I took 3 flecainide 50mg each (150mg). Usually it stops within 10 hours. I had also taken 1.25 Bisoprolol. At 7am on Tuesday morning because the AF hadn't stopped I thought its at least 12 hours since I took the flecainide it would be safe to take another 50 mg. At 9am still in AF it took another 100mg, 300mg in all i also took my usual dose of 1.25 Bisoprolol. I was told to rest when taking a dose of Flecainade but

I went to Sainsburys,. I thought I will walk round slowly. At the checkout I collapsed and according to my husband I had stopped breathing and they couldn't find a pulse. Within a few seconds of my collapse the staff were at my side and administering CPR. They brought me round very quickly thank goodness. I was taken to hospital and the consultant said I had overdosed on the flecainade.

I want to say that the staff of Sainsburys gravesend were fantastic and very professional.

I wasn't really given any guidance about Flecainade pill in the pocket. My heart doesn't go above 90bpm during an AF, so I am not sure if I have had been given the right pills. I am now going to have a echo cardiogram etc. let's hope i can now get sorted.

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27 Replies

  • Wow that's scary Lucy, hope you're OK now.

    I was put on Flecainide and told by my EP to start on just 50mgs twice a day, then after a few days if I wanted to got to 50+100, then again if I wanted to 100+100 / day. He was clearly concerned about suddenly taking a high dose.

    The Flec didn't work for me, 50+50 maybe did something on a small scale, then 50+100 gave me palpitations. But I think most people find it a good drug but it's not for everyone.

  • I have it only when I get an AF it usually worked within 10 hrs but not yesterday. I used to take 50 twice a day but went back to pill in pocket because I didn't feel well taking it all the time.

  • Oh Lucy what a shocking story!! We are all so vunerable to the effects of our medication. Did your doctor say you could take such a high dose of flecainide? Are you at home, or still in hospital? Hope you are better now.

  • He said take 150 when I had an AF but I didn't know you had to wait 24 hours I thought it was 12 hours because people take it twice a day. I am at home resting now. No AF at the moment so that's a good thing!

  • Hi Lucy and all I can say is thank goodness that somebody at Sainsbury knew CPR! Flecainide is not suitable for all patients and I wonder who it was who prescribed it for you. It is known that some patients who may have additional heart conditions should not be given it so hopefully you were properly assessed before you had it. I only took it as PIP for a few months and was told that once I had taken the dose I was not to take a second for 24 hours so again maybe there was a breakdown in communication. I would most definitely take this up with your doctor as another person may not be so lucky..

    A heart rate of 90 in AF is not high so maybe the bisoprolol is keeping it down. Many people go up into the high hundreds and I once went to 220!!! Bit over the top really . Stay relaxed and rest plenty. Have a Good Christmas.


  • My AF is a rhythm type it might miss a beat and then go two beats very quickly. I have had it on and off for years and my heart never goes above 90 in AF. I think now the consultant thought I had the fast heart beat type. As he didn't have a ECG when I was in AF. I assumed he knew what type I had. It's seems so hit and miss with us. It's frightening. I am ok at the moment at home with a sore chest but that is a small price to pay. Let's hope when I go back to the cardiologist they can get it sorted. My usual heart rate is in the 50-60 on Bisoprolol.

    Thank you all it's good to have this forum.

  • Hi i too take flecainide as pill in the pocket 100mg, but although it controlls AF i feel very light headed not good when you are at work , am seeing consultant 30dec for a ablation

    good first aid by sainsburys , my wife is a first aider with sainsburys

  • Lucy

    I've got to ask why you are on Bisoprolol when you don't have a fast heart rate, even in AF?

    My heart rate only rarely goes below 80, and 90-100 is quite normal for me. Yours at 50-60 (and only 90 in AF) is low, surely?

    I'm no expert though, just what I've derived from here!

  • That's what I am wondering. I was prescribed it when I was in A&E with AF a junior doctor went to see the cardiologist and asked him what should he give me. The cardiologist didn't come to see me. When I did go and see in 6months later he didn't change it. I think he thought I had the fast heart beat AF not my type. They seem to lump us all together and not see us a individuals. We trust the doctors as they know more!!

  • My EP said for me not to take Biso even with my heart rate. I have the type of AF that comes when I lie down and at Patients Day the EP said for those types, beta-blockers are not the right drug.

    Yes, really worth questioning. I've even had a junior cardio/EP put me on Biso and then the senior EP said not to take it unless I felt I needed to, and I didn't. Me and Biso don't get on, makes me feel drugged and sloooow.

  • When I was in hospital yesterday I saw a medical consultant who seemed much more clued up and diagnosed over dose of flecainide I am going to see if I can see him again when I get the results from my echocardiogram

    And 24hr ECG.

  • This is really appalling! From what you say I am not convinced you have AF as it sounds much more like ectopic beats with the two together and a gap. I get this but it is most definitely NOT AF I think you need to see an Electrophysiologist- this is a cardiologist who specialises in rhythm problems. There is a list by area on the main AFA website and I suggest that you find one near you and demand that your doctor refers you. Sadly this sort of mistreatment/ misdiagnosis (and I'm not saying it is) is not unknown.


  • Funny you should say that a private (second opinion) cardiologist thought it might be that. He wanted a 48 hour ECG my GP refused to do it. So when I had an AF I went to the surgery and asked for an ECG and they did it, you could see the pauses in my heart rate, they said that was definitely AF. Well let's hope this episode will sort things out and get the diagnosis right.

  • Can you recommend an Electrophysiologist in London. So I can ask my GP when I see him.

  • I saw Dr o' Neill in St Thomas' who allowed me to make choice between meds or ablation. He was clear and concise and respected my right to have an opinion! I had ablation 6weeks ago and feel great.

    I hope you are feeling better and good luck fo future. Happy Christmas!


  • Your GP refused an monitor recommended by a cardio!! Oh dear, they sound like mine; they haven't a clue. I ignore mine re arrhythmias, fine with other problems.

    As Bob just said and speaking from experience, you need to see an EP to get some sense of it all. Don't let anything stand in your way, else they could faff around for years.

  • AF is a very chaotic trace on an ECG NOT gaps in heart beats. It is quite distinct. There are plenty of EPs in the London area with Royal Brompton. St Georges, Barts etc all having EP departments. I went to Jonathan R Clague at Royal Brompton myself but there are several EPs there including Sabine Ernst (look up her CV on google) Barts have Prof Richard Schilling and many others. All these people are top of the game players. Change doctors would be my advice. It took me ten years and a house move which changed my doctor for me to be diagnosed.


  • Thank you for your advice, luckily I should get a letter from the hospital for the GP so will go from there.

  • Dr Ernest, who Bob mentioned above, saw me recently at the Brompton and I thought she was excellent- She is going to arrange a heart scan for me when they get some new DSpect machine after Christmas as the only drug she would recommend for me ( as resting pulse is low) is flecanide but she said one has to be checked for underlying heart disease before taking it. I think she will also accept my not taking it and going for ablation when symptons are bad/ frequent enough so I felt really pleased after seeing her.

    Hope this is useful as seems to relate to your experience

    glad to hear you are recovered

  • Im a bit frightened to take flecainide now, I'm hoping to stay in sinus until I see someone. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • Hi Lucybod, that sounds horrible. Thank goodness you had the help you needed.

    I have used Flec for over 5 years, firstly a pill in the pocket, 300mg at the start of an attack, when I was repeatedly warned that Flec is a very toxic drug and that if I must not take another dose, even a small one, within 48 hours. I now take 2 x 100 mg a day and was told that is the maximum daily dose and I must not take more than 100mg within a 12 hour period. I have never been told to rest after taking, although to be honest I have never felt like going shopping as my bmp is normally 130+ so would probably not be able to even if I tried.

    I do hope you are ok now and have talked to your GP about taking Flec and great you are getting checked out.

  • Do you take any other medication for your heart apart from anti coagulant? I took Bisoprolol which must have made it worse. I was told by the surgery to buy a finger pulse oximeter, to check blood saturation before taking any pill in the pocket again. My blood pressure is usually around 119/69 so quite low.

  • I have been put on and taken off Flecainide so many times I have lost count. I am on Sotalol and Digoxin now and at rest a steady 60 BPM rarely go above 130 BPM now, before I was 35 to 169 in a 24 hour period with an average of 120

  • Hi I have been taking Flecanide since 2008 100 mg morning & night with another 100 mg for break thru runs without any problems . I also take Sigmaxin modified release am only & Vascoardol modified release also am only. Prior to adding Sigmaxin I had a lot of break thru runs , now only 1-2 every 3 months . My normal resting heart rate used to be 100 now 74 which is much better , sorry to hear of your experience hope everything works out ok for you

  • Oh my... So sorry to hear that Lucy, I hope you're feeling better now - I am not on flecainide but it's good for people to know it needs to be used with care!

    Best wishes, Lis

  • Feeling better today. I thought I needed to warn people because the doctors don't always tell you that you need to take care. I wasn't told how long to wait. I thought it would be alright after 12 hours because people take the pill twice a day. I was told it was definitely an over dose of flecainide

    And I was lucky my heart could have stopped and not started again because of the drugs in my body. They say don't look on the internet but I should have looked at the half life of Flecainade and I would have seen that I shouldn't take any more for at least 24 hrs and even 48 hours. A lesson learned. It's good to have all your support on this forum. Thank you all

  • Personally, i've had nothing but problems with both Flecainide and Propropfenol, which I now avoid like the plague. Both made matters worse and put me into hospital at different times. In fact with Flecainide i also blanked out in the street and remember nothing.

    Bisoprolol I can swear by, and for what its worth, forget flecainide and increase bisoprolol. Much better. But i'm not the doctor. Wish you well.

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