Atenolol should be used with caution in: women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, patients with liver or kidney problems, heart failure (controlled by treatment), types of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) known as first-degree heart block, angina (chest pain when the heart does not receive enough blood), diabetes, an over-active thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), low levels of sugar in the blood, any allergies, breathing problems, psoriasis (a type of skin disease normally indicated by red scaly patches), or those who drink alcohol.
It should not be used in: allergy to atenolol or to any other ingredient in the medicine; patients who have (or have had) asthma or breathing problems such as wheezing and including those who have experienced bronchospasm (when muscle bands around the airways tighten uncontrollably causing the airways to narrow, and leading to asthma symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath); low blood pressure (hypotension); a very slow heart beat (severe bradycardia), are in shock because of heart disease (cardiogenic shock); those who have uncontrolled heart failure; an interference with the normal heart rate (known as sick sinus syndrome); types of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) known as second- or third-degree heart block; poor blood supply to the arms or legs (severe peripheral vascular disease); Prinzmetal’s angina (chest pain in periods of rest), high blood pressure owing to a tumour near the kidney (phaeocromocytoma) unless controlled by drugs called alpha blockers; or having too much acid in the blood and body tissues (metabolic acidosis).
Also see list of precautions and interactions.
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Atenolol is used to treat a number of problems.
It is a member of a class of drugs called beta-adrenoreceptor blocking drugs, sometimes known as beta blockers.
In general, this drug is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), often in combination with other drugs, but it is also used for the treatment of angina (chest pain when the heart does not receive enough blood), irregular heart beats (arrhythmias), or to protect the heart after a heart attack.
Benefits of being on this drug include the lowering of blood pressure and relief from angina.
Listed below are the typical uses of atenolol:
- Treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Treatment of angina (chest pain when the heart does not receive enough blood)
- Treatment of irregular heart beats (arrhythmias)
- To protect the heart after a heart attack.
However on occasion your doctor may prescribe this medicine to treat a condition not on this list.
HOW TO USE/TAKE
How often do I take it?
- This medication is available as a tablet, which should be taken orally, usually once or more per day, and taken with a glass of water. It is also available as an oral syrup and as a solution for injection or infusion.
- Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it.
- Remember to use it at the same time each day - unless specifically told otherwise by your doctor.
- It may take some time (1 to 2 weeks) before you notice any benefits of this drug.
- Certain medical conditions may require different dosage instructions as directed by your doctor.
- Dosage is based on your age, gender, medical condition, response to therapy and use of certain interacting medicines.
Do I need to avoid anything?
- Avoid drinking alcohol as this increases the blood-pressure lowering effect of atenolol. Occasionally dizziness or tiredness may occur when taking atenolol tablets, and in these cases patients should not drive or operate machinery.
When can I stop?
- It is important to continue taking this medication even if you feel well, unless your doctor tells you to stop.
ATENOLOL SIDE EFFECTS
- Very slow heart beat (severe bradycardia)
- Breathing problems
- Swollen ankles
- Feeling faint
- Feeling faint or dizzy when standing up
- Coldness in the arms or legs
- Pain in the legs when walking
- Irregular heart beat (arrhythmia)
- Feeling confused or unable to concentrate
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
- Dryness of the mouth
- Dryness of the eyes
- Feeling sick (nausea)
- Hair loss
- Skin rash
- Unexplained bruising.
If any of these persist or you consider them severe then inform your doctor.
Tell your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Allergic reaction such as itching, difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, lips, throat or tongue
- Breathing difficulties in patients who have asthma or have had breathing problems
- Heart attack or shock
- Increased bruising, nose bleeds sore throats or infection
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
A serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine (which includes vaccines, herbals and over the counter medicines) that you are taking. It is run by the medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory agency (MHRA). Please report any suspected side effect on the Yellow Card Scheme website.
Before taking atenolol, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other beta blockers; or if you have any other allergies.
This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: asthma or breathing problems such as wheezing and including those who have experienced bronchospasm (when muscle bands around the airways tighten uncontrollably, causing the airways to narrow, and leading to asthma symptoms such as chest tightness, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath), low blood pressure (hypotension), a very slow heart beat (severe bradycardia), are in shock because of heart disease (cardiogenic shock), those who have uncontrolled heart failure, an interference with the normal heart rate (known as sick sinus syndrome), types of irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) known as second- or third-degree heart block, Prinzmetal’s angina (chest pain in periods of rest), poor blood supply to the arms or legs (severe peripheral vascular disease), high blood pressure owing to a tumour near the kidney (phaeocromocytoma) unless controlled by drugs called alpha blockers, or having too much acid in the blood and body tissues (acidosis).
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially any of the following: any previous lung or breathing disorders including asthma.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.
Does alcohol intake affect this drug?
- Yes. It can cause further reductions in blood pressure.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding - please ensure you read the detailed information below.
Atenolol is not safe to take during pregnancy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts or questions about this.
It is sensible to limit use of medication during pregnancy whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.
If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.
Atenolol is not safe to take if you are breastfeeding. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts or questions about this.
It is sensible to limit use of medication during breastfeeding whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.
If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist
Your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.
This drug should not be used with the following medications because very serious, possibly fatal interactions may occur: calcium-channel blockers (verapamil, nifedipine, nisoldipine, diltiazem); alpha blockers, anti-arrhythmics (amiodarone, flecainide), antipsychotics (phenothiazines), clonidine, moxisylyte.
If you are currently using any of these medications, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting atenolol.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and non-prescription/herbal products you may use, especially of:
- Anaesthetics, antidepressants (e.g. monoamine oxidase inhibitors [MAOIs], tricyclic antidepressants [TCAs]), diuretics, sympathomimetic drugs (e.g. adrenaline or dobutamine), antidiabetics (e.g. insulin), anti-inflammatory pain killers (e.g. ibuprofen or indomethacin).
This information does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using atenolol, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use.
Symptoms of an overdose include: a very slow heart rate (bradycardia), changes in the heart rate or rhythm, low blood pressure, heart failure, and being in shock because of heart disease (cardiogenic shock). Fits, coma (unable to wake), bronchospasm, slowing of the breathing, and airway constriction can also occur, although infrequently.
If you think you, or someone you care for, might have accidentally taken more than the recommended dose of atenolol or intentional overdose is suspected, contact your local hospital, GP or if in England call 111. In Scotland call NHS 24. In Wales, call NHS Direct Wales. In the case of medical emergencies, always dial 999.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.