Atenolol problems

I was prescribed Atenolol a few months ago for steroid induced raised blood pressure and haven't really felt well since. I am on 25 mgs although the GP wanted me on 50 mgs. I have taken Propranolol in the past with no ill effects but the GP said that Atenolol had fewer side effects. My blood pressure was only slightly raised and was mostly the high end of normal. I want to stop taking it and found all sorts of horror stories about coming off it on Internet blogs. Does anyone have experience of coming off this drug? My GP tends to over prescribe based on age and statistics, I would be on an entire pharmacy if I didn't research and resist things. I dimly realised that I was dreading taking this drug because it made me feel ill. Obviously I don't want to keel over but I feel so poisoned all the time. He takes a dim view of opposition and then makes me feel really alone if I plough my own furrow. God I am sick of feeling rotten. I've halted my Pred. Reduction at 10 mgs due to a bad bout of flu and total sleeping sickness. Bracing myself to start dead slow again ( can't imagine feeling anything like well though). I spend my energy like a miser, not in much pain but so exhausted and ill feeling.

21 Replies

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  • Morning SheffieldJane

    There are so many different blood pressure medications available, it's unfair of your GP to insist that you stay on one that is not suiting you & moreover upsetting you as well.

    I had to start BP Meds when I was on high doses of Prednisolone as my BP skyrocketed, it took five different trials with differeing Meds & combinations. He worked through the usual ones first until he found a combination that suited me & I've been fine on them ever since.

    I wouldn't mess with your Pred until you feel 'better' or should l say able. I'd be inclined to go back to see the GP & explain the Meds are not suiting you, that you'd like to try something else & reiterated that Propranolol had suited you in the past.

    BP Meds are notoriously difficult to get right, it's not one size fits all but once you get the right one, you're good to go.

    I know what you mean about sparing your energy, l do that too! I think January has been a hard month for a lot of us, so today we can start thinking of better times ahead.

    Speak Soon

    Best Wishes 💐

    Mrs N

  • So stop taking it, write a pleasant letter to the doctor explaining what you have done and why. Once it is in writing it's difficult for them to say they didn't know just how bad you have been feeling.

    Once you are off them you may find that you are better than you think you might be.

    I've had to do this a couple of times for the surgery, but my Rheumy is good and if I march in there and say 'not taking those again' he accepts it.

  • As polkadotcom says writing a pleasant letter is an excellent idea & you can explain clearly the issues without getting emotional.

    Do you have your own BP Machine at home so you can monitor it yourself?

    Good Luck 🍀

    Mrs N

  • Yes, SheffieldJane, I was on Atenolol for a few years some time ago. When I started to feel a little below par, my wonderful pharmacist at the time told me I should have tapered off it slowly - she suggested that, in my case, I should have taken about 3 weeks to taper off it - one week for each year on it. As well as reducing blood pressure, Atenolol slows the heart rate/metabolism, so it makes sense to come off it this way. Probably for that reason, I felt sluggish on it and had a problem shifting weight. As you say you have only been on it for a few months, I would have thought you could come off it just tapering over a week or so, but please don't just stop it without telling your GP first - I'm sure he will be happy to replace it with Propranolol as that has suited you in the past.....if your blood pressure still warrants it, of course. I do hope you feel better on all fronts soon.

  • I do appreciate the marketing (and maybe even his experience) tells him that atenolol has fewer side effects but everyone is different, especially when you are on other drugs as well, and if you had been fine on propanolol before then it would have made sense to start with it.

    As MrsN says, there are so many BP drugs out there, it is totally unreasonable for a GP to insist on one particular one. The first one I was given in hospital caused a mega rash that spread from round my neck slowly outwards and downwards. It was utter hell, The first doctors (juniors) ignored me. When I told the specialist he stopped it immediately and wrote up the second line option the cardiologist had suggested. I also have a large red sign on my notes saying it is not to be used. I am on very low doses of two different drugs - a very good solution as the side effects are non-existent but together they do the job. Sometimes even they do it a bit too efficiently!

    As the others say - if it isn't suiting you and your BP wasn't too bad, stop taking it and be very clear to the GP you have stopped because it made you feel ill. If he won't listen to you and be helpful - I would find another who will.

  • Hi,

    Going off on a slight tangent- as ever!

    Just read something about beta blockers ( Atenolol et al) to the effect that they restrict the production of adrenaline (knew that deep down, but probably didn't think it through it correctly at the time - blame Pred head).

    Could it have been a factor that I was taking 50mg Atenolol that made is so difficult for my Adrenal glands to get going again? I felt absolutely whacked for about a year whilst reducing from 6mg to 3mg. Never associated it at the time - thought it was because I'd been on such high doses of Pred - which I'm sure didn't help either.

    Immaterial for me now, but might be help for others in the future.

    What thinks you, guru?

  • The studies I can find say they don't have much effect on cortisol although they do change the rhythm of cortisol secretion. When I got down to below 5mg I was knackered - better now I'm back at a higher dose.

    Maybe - maybe not...

  • Thank you for the thought you've put into your responses. I feel validated and therefore more confident. It is very muddling juggling all these meds. And trying to measure degrees of feeling shitty. I am bored being me with this! Today the birds outside my window are fluting away, the air feels mild and I can smell the Peaks on the breeze. Thank God for Spring and hope. Winter has been a rotten time for us hibernating mice. X

  • Hi Jane

    Just come off it myself - was on cocktail of BP drugs pre GCA (previous thinking & GP)and current GP didn't want to make changes whilst I was on Pred.

    Persuaded him to rethink after Xmas, so have dropped Atenolol.

    No tapering, no problems, BP still stable although pulse rate increased back to normal. Maybe I'm just lucky.

    According to him if only one tablet prescribed then usually Amlopodine rather than Atenolol preferred even though Atenolol has fewer side effects.

    Do hope you soon feel better.

  • Thank you DorsetLady, I've just mopped the floor, so I am. ( What a way to use a short burst of energy).

  • My, you know how to live!

    Take care.

  • Steady on there - don't go mad!!!!

  • I am so pleased with my GP.. when she advised me to take meds to reduce pred-related increased blood pressure, she began by saying that there are many different ones, suggested I try Amlodipine, warned me of side effects, if I had any to let her know and she'd suggest something else! I mentioned this site (and all the help/advice therein) to her and she kept the info for any other patients she may have with our concerns. Lovely GP... there are some good 'uns out there

  • Hi

    Atenolol is a beta blocker so you will get very tired. When do you take the med? Getting off the med should be done slowly, they usually go from 25 mg to 12.5. Like others have said, sometimes it is tricky to find the right bp med, sometimes you have to experiment to find the right one. Good luck

  • Beta-blockers don't always make you tired - I'm on bisoprolol, but at a very low dose because it is combined with a low dose of losartan, an angiotensin II receptor antagonist. The only thing that makes me tired is PMR...

  • I am going on my practice as an advanced practice nurse.. I have prescriptive authority so I feel comfortable giving medical advice

  • I was merely reporting my personal experience.

  • Thanks for your input as ever. Blood pressure meds. Are a whole new world to me although I took Propranolol during a very anxious period in my life, they worked and I was unaware of any side effects. With Atenolol I have stomach upset, general feelings of being unwell and the PMR Fatigue with knobs on - truly like being drugged and staggering to lie down for a fitful nightmare inducing sleep.

    Apologies everyone, I am so bored with moaning .😏

  • Then tell your GP you would very much like to try something else, please nicely!

  • Hello SheffieldJane, The first thing I would do (if you are able) is to get as complete a BP profile as possible over the hours you are awake. Rest 5 minutes before taking the measurement, don't take it when you first get up, after alcohol, tobacco, or coffee, or for 2 hours after a meal .

    Although this may seem excessive, I collect records every 2 hours (not on the same day) to see what changes are taking place over the 16 hours I am up. Atenolol (Tenormin) is a beta blocker that has a 6 hour half-life for younger people, but up to 9 hours for older folks; because it takes them up to 1/3 longer to clear the drug.

    I am also on atenolol and found that I was high first thing in the AM, then started to see a decline to a low point in the early afternoon. From this point on, it began to slowly rise again to a border-line high at midnight when I go to bed. When my pressure bottomed in the early afternoon, I felt dizzy; especially when standing up. This is called orthostatic hypotension.

    I then split the tablet and began taking half at 10:00 AM and the other half at 12:00 PM. This gave me a much more even profile; without dizziness or orthostatic hypotension. If you don't need BP meds, at all this drug, or any other drug, will bring your pressure too low and make you feel sick. This is not a side-effect, but rather too much medication.

    For me, the atenolol was a blessing, as it stopped trembling, tachycardia, ectopic heartbeats, and anxiety.

    Good luck with this and I hope you feel better.

    P.S. I had low potassium (not uncommon in steroid users) and it left me with fatigue and muscle exhaustion; primarily in the legs. After I corrected this problem I felt much better. Has your doctor checked your potassium levels?

  • Thank you Admiral06 for your thoughtful, considered reply. My husband is keen to see me through the self monitoring, I guess he thinks in a practical way too. Whereas I sit in a boat with a hole in it, in the middle of a lake, complaining about my predicament. It's time I started rowing for shore. Thanks again for your well researched input to this forum.

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