Coming off Bisoprolol

Unfortunately my husband has found that even a reduced dose (1.25mg) of Bisoprolol is causing such a poor quality of life the GP has stopped it altogether and we are waiting to see the hospital consultant on Monday.

What have been others experiences of coming off Bisoprolol? He has only taken it for 2 months during which time his walking gait now resembles a penguin on ice - where his body is permanently braced and arms slightly out from the body to balance because he feels as if his legs will give way under him at any time. He can't walk more than 25 yards without needing to sit down but is not breathless at all just feels unsafe walking. Consequently he has stopped going out unless absolutely necessary i.e for INR testing or to the GP. He is completely demoralised because he feels so helpless. This is now 7 days after stopping it and these peculiar side effects have not abated so I don't know how long it stays in your body or whether there is some sort of rebound effect when you stop.

PS I'm sorry to be so negative as I know there are many AFers who take Biso with no problems at all and I wish them continued good health


29 Replies

  • Hi DoubleEm,

    Sorry to hear of your husband's assured that there are others like myself who have found just the 1.25 of Bisoprolol more than problematic. Whilst not quite as severe as the ones you described, after a month I was intolerably light headed, found it difficult to string a sentence together and basically felt like a zombie. 

    Two prior encounters with beta blockers had much the same effect so will now no longer touch them.  Hope all goes well with the G.P.


  • Thanks for the information. Best wishes

  • Will you let us now how you and your husband get on?  The reason I ask is because my walking is awful and what you describe is similar to my experience. I take 2.5 bisoprolol daily. My Cardiologist was adamant that my difficulty was not due to the bisoprolol. I am left to think that it's a neurological problem caused by wear in my lower spine. But could drugs such as flecainide be to blame?

  • Well my life improved dramatically after stopping  1.25 dose?  

  • I take flecainide with minimal problems but years ago when i was involved in pain management we occasionally used flecainide for the relief of neuropathic (nerve) pain in people with life limiting diease when nothing else was working. There are better options these days but anecdotally I guess that suggests there may be a connection.

  • Thanks for your reply. I sympathise with your difficulties in walking.

  • Thanks for your reply. I sympathise with your difficulties in walking

  • Oh poor man - I thought my reaction was bad but nothing compared to your husband.  I just completely lacked energy and felt wiped out all the time, having to sleep during the day - this is whilst taking the same dose.  My husband said I was 'very unhappy'.  I have been off Bisoprolol for just over two weeks and feel just a bit more lively.  Please tell the consultant so that your husband gets a thorough check-up.  Good luck for Monday.

  • "Very unhappy" only touches the surface with my husband and if he was confident enough to join this forum himself he would probably be banned for swearing when describing what this has done to him! So may be just as well he "belongs" to the forum from a distance eh?

    Glad to hear you feel a bit better now and I hope it continues to improve and you are restored to "full happiness". Best wishes

  • Gee reading your posts I think I am very lucky I take 10 mg bisoprolol  only side efect is some times feel a bit tired I have been on it for over 2years

  • Long may your good health continue. Best wishes

  • I was told that Bisoprolol typically takes a month to stabilise when increasing or decreasing a dose (mine has always ben adjusted by 1.25mg at a time, including when I was started on it.  When it has caused symptoms my guess (I am not medically qualified) is that it will take longer.  What other medication is being taken, if any?

    I had problems with simvastatin and that caused similar symptoms.  However I found a very good physio who did a whole body assessment, did adjustments in my middle and lower back, did my calves and feet and also I paid for orthotic insoles.  Fifteen months after having the soles my walking posture, etc is better than it was years ago.  Often things like medicines are the tipping point so to speak of other underlying medical issues.  Hot and cold dunking will help circulation.

    Often if in persistent or permanent AF then circulation is impaired.

    Good luck.

  • Only other medication being taken is Warfarin daily and occasional Co-Codamol. I think a Physio assessment sounds like a great option that we will look in to. Many thanks

  • Yes.  The challenge is to find one who takes a wholistic approach, has quite a bit of experience (say 15 years or so) but is open minded and not set in their ways.  

  • Hi, I stopped it after 1 month,  I had such low energy I could not function,  I now have pill in the pocket using metoprolol k(I have PAF and rarely have episodes)   in fact it's been a year so pill in pocket ok in those circumstances, hope they sort out one to give a good quality of life, I stopped bisop and took about five days to feel much better!!   Good luck 🍀 

  • PIP is something we would like to discuss with the professionals next week. Thanks for your reply

  • HI...yes, similar problems with Bisoprolol.  GP said it was either tiredness from bisiprolol or tiredness from my atrial flutter.  EP took me off it and said to try Digoxin. Have not tried it yet as am managing without either.  Unfortunately still tired, but not zombie tired! 

    Agree with above. Try physio for check up and a back and neck massage as clearly your poor husband is really tense now...

  • Massage is being done daily and it does reduce the body tension but during the course of the day his body tightens up again. Thanks for your reply

  • Hi DoubleEm!  I was on 10mg Bisoprolol for 9 months - an increasingly wheezy, breathless, tired 9 months. But Afib kept controlled. After checking if possible to improve my situation, GP swapped me in March to Slozem (diltiazem) a calcium channel blocker. But the changeover period was scary and I made a few worried phonecalls and surgery visits during this time. I was originally told to take the new Slozem 120mg alongside the usual Biso, digoxin and Warfarin for a week, then drop Biso down to 2.5mg for another week, then stop it completely. Two days after starting the First week I had a "funny do" when out for lunch with friends when suddenly I couldn't find the words or make any sense talking - see Daveboy99's post. I had to be driven home in my own car! Another GP I then spoke 2 on phone said it was a fall in blood pressure due to taking both medications, that caused my confusion, Biso dose too high, so drop immediately to 1.25mg and the Second week to every other day, continuing on Slozem every day as prescribed. And thus I came off Bisoprolol, and within a week or so, the bad wheezy cough I had, especially during the nightime had eased and is now gone as I write. The breathlessness has also passed and I can walk to the bus stop again and still be in breath! And I am definitely less lethargic. I did have to double my dose of both Slozem to 240mg and Digoxin 250mcg and had 2 days of Afib shortlived episodes whilst my body adjusted.  Don't want to attempt fate but feel much better these days and only side effect of Slozem unfortunately is some constipation problems - a listed side effect. 

    Keep up the brilliant sleuthing for your husband. DoubleEm! He's very lucky to have your determination to help improve his life. Hope he feels better very soon, and look after yourself too.


  • Thanks for your informative reply. Glad to hear your health has improved and I wish you a peaceful life in the future.

  • I was on the same dose as your husband having had it reduced from 2.5 mg and although I didn't suffer like your husband - I felt awful, had no energy and that was making me feel depressed.  Then I saw an EP who took me off it and put me on Verapamil 125mg with flecainide as my P in Pocket. That was approx 2 years ago and I now feel fine.

    I hope the Consultant you are seeing is an EP as they are the real experts when it comes to AF.

    Wish your husband all the best and tell him there is life after Bisop.... and its good.

  • Thanks for your positivity, best wishes for your continued good health

  • I was taking 1.25mg of Bisoprolol in the morning (with 50mg of Fleicanide). The Bisoprolol made me frequently dizzy and after many months I switched to taking the Bisoprolol in the evening and now I never feel dizzy ay all. Your symptoms are    debilitating  and I  do hope you get it resolved soon.

  • Thanks for your reply. Glad you were able to resolve your dizziness. Best wishes

  • Hi I had lots of problems with Bisop started by taking 2.5mg but energy

    went and I eventually pased out due to low heartrate. My dose was 

    reduced to 1.25 mg and I feel ok but have 'white finger' and cramp 

    which disturbs my sleep.  I have tried stopping it but became very

    breathless.  As I have been reading the replies to your post I saw one

    from jennydog and identified ummediately with her walking difficulties.

    I have put my almost constant dizziness down to 'age'.I saw an af nurse

    at my last appointment who thought it could be an 'inner ear' problem.

    Ive been getting much worse lately and when I walk alone have started

    using a stick.  Im now thinking maybe it could be the Bisoprolol which

    Ive been taking now for about 5 years.  Initially I presumed my light-

    headedness was related to my af, which Im sure was correct but Im 

    now af free and am very definately frequently unsteady on my feet

    and wonder if Bisop is the reason.  I also recall a conversation I had

    with my husband last week when we discussed his unsteadiness

    which he also puts down to age, I realise that it could indeed be age

    related but its something that needs looking into.  My husband has

    been taking Bisoprolol for about 7 years, 2.5mgs.


  • I think it's slightly easier for us to narrow it down to the beta blocker because

    a) my husband has only been taking it for 2 months

    b) was not being treated for any other long-term condition prior to AF being diagnosed

    c) Apart from daily warfarin and occasional Co-Codamol he is not taking any other medication.

    d) Had no prior walking / balance issues - usually walking 1.5 miles daily recreationally

    That's why I've been reassured by some of the other replies received from AFers who have discontinued Bisop that hopefully this is just a longer withdrawal period than we anticipated. We will definitely raise it tomorrow with the Consultant.

    I'm sorry to hear about your and your husband's balance issues, I've seen how much it affects personal confidence. I hope you get a satisfactory answer. Best wishes for a peaceful life

  • Hi DoubleEm,

    I didn't get on with even a low dose of Bisoprolol (2.5mg twice daily) - I felt like a zombie and had tingling fingers.

    My EP switched me onto Tildiem Retard (a form of diltiazem, a calcium channel blocker) and I feel that I have returned to normal. I've been on Tildiem Retard for the best part of a year now and don't think I have any side effects. The switch was done straight away i.e. stop Bisoprolol, start Tildiem - no tapering down at all.

    Your husband shouldn't be having to manage with this sort of level of side effects. There are other types of drugs available and it's just a case of working with the medical team to find out what suits him.

    Hope you manage to get something sorted.


  • Hello All,

    I'm a long-term silent observer, mainly because so many of you have greater experience to offer, but just felt that maybe my story will add to the mix after all!

    Diagnosed PAF in 2005 - managed on Sotolol until 2011 when things got much worse. Many episodes running 12 hours or more mainly overnight, so exhausted most of the time. GP at the time ignorant and unsympathetic, but eventually saw his locum who listened to my story and my heart and referred me directly to an EP who had clinic at local hospital. He said ablation would "give me my life back" so started on Warfarin, Bisoprolol and Flecainide for 3 months prior to first ablation at end 2011. This was unsuccessful and I had a terrifying 3 months before review with several collapses and blackouts taking me into A&E by ambulance. On review I was readmitted as an emergency and had 2nd ablation in March 2012. This dealt with the AF and I have been free from it since, but began to have the balance/feeling faint/lack of energy reported by many others. Found walking a nightmare and lost all confidence so didn't want to go out. Hospital consultant suspected early stage Parkinsons, so joined the queue for neurology tests which took 6 months to determine this was not the case.  Investigations continued until early 2015 when another doctor suggested reducing Bisoprolol to the minimum dose and things finally began to improve. So here I am at age 74 having spent 4 years on this journey and now beginning to get back to something approaching normal, although I still do not walk confidently. Wishing I could come off Bisoprolol altogether, but now finding my blood pressure tending upwards and GP wanting to increase this drug again to bring it down!

    Concluding this saga, as an abject coward and extremely squeamish where anything medical is concerned, I would still commend ablation (under sedation) as the most likely means of dealing with AF. It's a great pity there doesn't seem to be any reliable research into what happens in the following years, and little help in dealing with side affects of various med cocktails.

    Respect to you all and best wishes.

  • Thank you for your informative reply. I have been so grateful for the forum members good advice - you don't feel so alone. My husband says sometimes he wonders if the side effects of medication are worse than the condition but then he remembers how awful AF makes you feel and you think again. He has only recently been diagnosed so we have much to learn about ablation etc.

    As an aside, I have personally found a daily dose of apple cider vinegar (Honeygar) has been a successful alternative to diuretics to reduce my high blood pressure but I do not take any other medication at all.  Before you consider this I would stress that you would need to check it wouldn't interfere with any medication you may be taking.

    I wish you a peaceful life.

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