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- What is atenolol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for atenolol?
- Is atenolol available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for atenolol?
- What are the side effects of atenolol?
- What is the dosage for atenolol?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with atenolol?
- Is atenolol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about atenolol?
What is atenolol, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Atenolol is a beta-adrenergic blocking agent that blocks the effects of adrenergic chemicals, for example, adrenaline or epinephrine, released by nerves of the sympathetic nervous system. One of the important function of beta-adrenergic nerves is to stimulate the heart muscle to beat more rapidly. By blocking the stimulation by these nerves, atenolol reduces the heart rate and is useful in treating abnormally rapid heart rhythms. Atenolol also reduces the force of contraction of heart muscle and lowers blood pressure. By reducing the heart rate, the force of muscle contraction, and the blood pressure against which the heart must pump, atenolol reduces the work of heart muscle and the need of the muscle for oxygen. Since angina occurs when oxygen demand of the heart muscle exceeds the supply, atenolol is helpful in treating angina. Atenolol was approved by the FDA in August 1981.
What are the side effects of atenolol?
Atenolol is generally well tolerated, and side effects are mild and transient. Its side effects include:
- abdominal cramps,
- dreaming, memory loss,
- slow heart rate,
- abnormal heart rhythm,
- low blood pressure,
- cold extremities, and
- sore throat.
Atenolol can cause breathing difficulties in patients with asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema. In patients with existing slow heart rates (bradycardias) and heart blocks (defects in the electrical conduction of the heart), atenolol can cause dangerously slow heart rates and even shock. Atenolol reduces the force of heart muscle contraction and can aggravate symptoms of heart failure.
In patients with coronary artery disease, abruptly stopping atenolol can suddenly worsen angina, and occasionally precipitate heart attacks. If it is necessary to discontinue atenolol, its dosage can be reduced gradually over several weeks.
What is the dosage for atenolol?
- The dose for treating high blood pressure or angina is 25-100 mg once daily.
- Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) is treated with two 5 mg injections administered 10 minutes apart. Ten minutes after the last injection, give 50 mg every 12 hours followed by 100 mg oral atenolol daily for 6-9 days. If atenolol injections are not appropriate, patients may be treated with 100 mg daily of oral atenolol for 7 days.
Which drugs or supplements interact with atenolol?
: Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) and digoxin (Lanoxin) can cause lowering of blood pressure and heart rate to dangerous levels when administered together with atenolol. Atenolol can mask the early warning symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and should be used with caution in patients receiving treatment for diabetes.
Is atenolol safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Atenolol may cause harm and growth retardation in the fetus when given to pregnant women.
Atenolol is excreted in breast milk and my cause adverse effects in an infant being breastfed.
Atenolol (Tenormin)is a beta-adrenergic blocking agent, blocking the action of the sympathetic nervous system, a portion of the involuntary nervous system. Atenolol is prescribed for patients with high blood pressure (hypertension), used to treat chest pain (angina pectoris) related to coronary artery disease, and is also useful in slowing and regulating certain types of abnormally rapid heart rates (tachycardias). Other uses for atenolol include the prevention of migraine headaches and the treatment of certain types of tremors (familial or hereditary essential tremors). It is important to be aware of the drug interactions related to atenolol, effects on pregnancy, as well as common side effects on the user.
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.