Can You Just Quit Atenolol

Q: I am a male of 59 years being treated for hypertension at a local government clinic. I have been taking 25mg morning and afternoon of Atenolol for over a year now and my blood pressure has stabilised to 127/60. They have just told me that there will be no more stock of Atenolol available. I believe it is not a good idea just to stop taking it suddenly, what am I to do if no stock is available?

A: Atenolol, and all other medicines belonging to the same class of medicines, is ALWAYS reduced gradually over 7 to 14 days. It is never to be stopped abruptly.

Working Of Atenolol

First let’s understand how atenolol works. Atenolol is given in patients with weaker hearts or high blood pressure. It works by slowing down your heart a bit. Also it reduces the force with which our heart pumps. So, overall, it slows you down to a new normal, which your weak heart can easily manage and pull on with for a long time.

Now, stopping atenolol suddenly would remove all restrains form your heart. It may cause your heart beat stronger and faster increasing chances of you getting chest pain ar even a heart attack.

Apart from this, atenolol also regulates heart rhythms. So, its absence may cause irregular heart rhythms.

How To Stop Taking Atenolol

Atenolol should always be tapered over a period of 7 to 14 days, depending upon the total dose you are consuming. It should be done under the supervision of a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms need to be monitored. If there’s any rise in B.P. or any other symptom, an alternative medicine may be started along with.

Commonly, a low dose diuretic is given to patients who are withdrawing from atenolol.

Withdrawal may also affect your sleep and over all mood. Atenolol also controls over active thyroid gland. So, its absence may cause excess thyroid activities in individuals with thyroid problems.

Difference Between Atenolol And Propanolol

Though both these medications are beta blockers and work equally efficiently in controlling high blood pressure, there are significant differences between them. Choice of drug to be given, therefore, differs from patient to patient.

Propanolol is a non selective beta blocker. It blocks the action of adrenaline all over the body. Whereas, atenolol is a cardioselective beta blocker. It blocks the action of adrenaline only over the heart.

So, propanolol may be a better choice in patients having anxiety as well. Atenolol does not act on the brain.

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