What is Atenolol?
Atenolol is an anti-hypertensive drug belonging to the category of beta-blockers. It can be prescribed alone or in combination with other drugs to treat high blood pressure.
What are the uses of Atenolol?
Atenolol is used to treat hypertension. It mainly works by inhibiting the actions of naturally occurring chemicals in the human body such as epinephrine, which causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) and increases the heart rate. These chemicals can thus increase blood pressure. Atenolol reverses the effects of these chemicals, lowering your blood pressure and strain on the heart.
Atenolol is mainly used in the following conditions;
- Cardiac dysrhythmias (improper beating of the heart)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack). Mainly, post MI to reduce strain on the heart
- Angina Pectoris (chest pain or discomfort)
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Migraine headaches
How do you use Atenolol?
- It should be taken orally with or without food, usually 1 or 2 times or as prescribed by your physician.
- Follow all the instructions on the prescription label.
- Do not stop taking this medication abruptly without consulting your doctor.
- Try to take this tablet daily at the same time.
If You Miss the Dose.
- If you happen to miss a dose of Atenolol, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
- However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose.
- Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
What are the side-effects and risks of Atenolol?
The common side effects of Atenolol are;
Common mild side effects: The following side effects that are mild and usually disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they get severe please consult your doctor immediately.
- Leg pain
- Bradycardia (decrease in heart rate)
- Cold hands and feet
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure (than normal)
- Unexplained tiredness
- Reduced sex drive or impotence
The following are some serious side effects; Serious side effects: Call the doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms as they can be life-threatening:
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Trouble focusing
- Trouble breathing
- A large red rash
- Swelling of hands, feet and ankles
- Swelling of throat or tongue
Rare side effects:
- Purpura (a purple with purple spots caused by internal bleeding)
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet level)
- Leucopenia (low white blood cell count)
- Sleep disturbances
- Dry eyes
- Impaired vision
- Visual disturbances
- Precipitation of heart block
- Heart failure
- Postural hypotension
- Dry mouth
- Hepatic toxicity (liver disorders)
- Alopecia (baldness)
This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Please consult your doctor to know more about other possible side effects.
Who should not take Atenolol?
Talk to your doctor before taking Atenolol if you have:
- Heart rhythm problems
- Breathing problem as experienced with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Heart disorders
- Kidney diseases
- Uncontrolled heart failure
- Untreated pheochromocytoma (Tumor of the adrenal gland)
Talk to your doctor before taking Atenolol if:
- You are taking any other medication, are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy.
- You have any other allergies.
- You are allergic to any other medication.
- You are taking any other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products or nutritional supplements.
Besides, certain medicines may interfere with the working of Atenolol and thus might not be safe to take them together. Some of them are:
- Digitalis glycosides
- Iodine contrast media
- Peripheral muscle relaxants, such as Tubocurarine, Suxamethonium halogenide
- Insulin or other antidiabetic drugs
- Prostaglandin synthetase-inhibiting drugs, such as Ibuprofen and Indomethacin
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (except MAO-B inhibitors)
- Class I antiarrhythmic agents, such as Disopyramide and Quinidine
This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Atenolol. Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.
When should you not take Atenolol?
You should not take Atenolol if:
- It has passed the expiry date of the medicine printed on the pack.
- The packaging shows signs of tampering.
This drug may make you dizzy. Hence, consumption of alcohol or any sedative, marijuana (cannabis), tranquillizer, or sleep aid can cause more dizziness. Further, Atenolol may alter your ability to drive or operate machines. It may make you feel dizzy, sick, or tired, and even give a headache. If you feel any of these effects, do not drive or operate machines and contact your doctor immediately.
Atenolol is generally not advised before surgery (at least 24 hrs prior).