May 5, 2024

Hypertension Medication Side Effects – What You Need to Know

Older man taking hypertension medication

Hypertension Medication Side Effects – What You Need to Know

Most people with high blood pressure at times cannot get away with taking some sort of medication. As part of keeping our readers informed we want to be able to provide the information, you need to know about the most widely used medications.

That being said we are not medical doctors or pharmacists. So the information we provide is not medical advice. It is consumer information for you to discuss with your physician if need be and to better educate the general public about medications they may be taking.

This week’s medication review will be about “Atenolol” for high blood pressure. Do not stop taking atenolol all of a sudden. If you do, chest pain that is worse and in some cases heart attack may occur.

The risk may be greater if you have certain types of heart disease. To avoid side effects, you will want to slowly stop this medicine as ordered by your doctor. Call your doctor right away if you have new or worsening chest pain or if other heart problems occur.

What is Atenolol?

Atenolol belongs to the group of medicines known as beta-blockers. You are likely to have been prescribed it because you have high blood pressure, or angina chest pain, or a fast uneven heartbeat. Treatment is usually long-term.

Atenolol is only part of a complete program of treatment for hypertension that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely if you are being treated for hypertension.

Atenolol side effects

The most common Atenolol side effects are feeling tired, cold hands and feet, a slow heartbeat, and stomach upset.

Atenolol may interact with allergy treatments (or if you are undergoing allergy skin-testing), amiodarone, clonidine, digoxin, disopyramide, guanabenz, MAO inhibitors, diabetes medications, heart medications, medicine for asthma or other breathing disorders, cold medicines, stimulant medicines, or diet pills. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use.

Atenolol should be used during pregnancy only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. This medication passes into breast milk and may have undesirable effects on a nursing infant. Consult the doctor before breastfeeding. Women taking Tenormin should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor. Safety and effectiveness have not been established in pediatric patients.

Common Atenolol Side Effects:

  • Constipation, indigestion
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Dry mouth
  • Impotence
  • Cold extremities hands and feet
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Insomnia, nightmares
  • Edema
  • Fatigue, lack of energy

Serious Atenolol Side Effects:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • A sensation of pins and needles
  • Skin reactions, rash, hives, psoriasis
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty speaking, or hearing
  • Unsteadiness
  • Wheezing or noisy breathing

Seek medical help immediately if you experience one of the following side effects:

  • Slow, uneven heartbeats
  • Fainting, feeling light-headed
  • Swelling of your feet or ankles
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, fever, dark urine, loss of appetite
  • Depression

While Atenolol side effects cause few central nervous systems, such as depression and nightmares, it has been identified as increasing the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Beta-blockers mask dangerously low blood sugar, which makes them less safe for people with diabetes or prediabetes.

Foods And Drinks To Avoid While On Atenolol

Orange Juice

Orange juice should be avoided if you take atenolol. A 2005 study published in “European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology” looked at the effects of orange juice on the pharmacokinetics of atenolol.

The researchers used 10 healthy volunteers who drank either 200 mL of orange juice or water three times a day for three days and then twice a day on the fourth day. The subjects were given 50 mg of atenolol on the morning of day three.

Blood pressure and heart rate information were collected at baseline and two, four, six and 10 hours after administration. What they discovered was that orange juice interfered with the absorption of atenolol and the desired effects on heart rate and blood pressure were not achieved.


Licorice and licorice tea can increase blood pressure and may counteract the effects of atenolol. Most candy known as licorice sold in the U.S. is not actually made with licorice, but anise.

If you consume licorice candy on a regular basis, check the label to see if licorice is actually an ingredient. Talk with your physician regarding your licorice intake. He may advise against licorice or licorice tea use, or adjust your atenolol dosage.

Multivitamins With Minerals:

Using atenolol together with multivitamin with minerals may decrease the effects of atenolol. Separate the administration times of atenolol and multivitamin with minerals by at least 2 hours.

If your doctor does prescribe these medications together, you may need a dose adjustment or special test to safely use both medications.

It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. Do not stop using any medications without first talking to your doctor.

Other Precautions To Be Noted:


If you are taking atenolol, you ought to exercise additional caution while consuming alcohol, as it may inflate this medication’s ability to lower blood pressure. At the same time, alcohol may enhance its mild tranquilizing results.

Tobacco smoking:

Smoking tobacco has the aptitude to diminish the effectiveness of atenolol because nicotine is harmful to people having hypertension.

Exposure to heat:

People undergoing treatment with atenolol should be careful while exposing them to heat because exposure to hot environments will not only lower the blood pressure but may also inflate the actions of this medicine.

Exposure to cold:

You should also take precautions when exposed to cold. When people taking atenolol are exposed to cold, it may possibly augment the circulatory deficit, which is a potential side effect of this drug. Older adults taking atenolol should exercise additional caution to put off development of hypothermia.

The occurrence of unrelated illness:

Some unrelated ailments, for instance, fever, may possibly, lower blood pressure and in such cases, you may require an additional dose of atenolol.

In addition, vomiting and nausea may also disrupt the dosing program of this medication. It is advisable that you talk over to your physician for advice and assistance.

Heavy exercise or exertion:

People undergoing treatment with atenolol should take care to keep away from hard work as it may result in extreme weariness, feeling light-headed, or camping of the muscles. Atenolol may also make the blood pressure reaction to isometric exercise worse.

The more we educate ourselves on the medication we are taking we can lower the risks and increase the benefits of the medication we are taking.

For example, how many of us bother to ask about food interactions with the medication that we are taking? Very few indeed. But we learned today about different things that we can do to help us get the benefit of atenolol if we have to take it. I am big on patient advocacy and even bigger on being your own advocate. Educate yourself today and be a better informed you.

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5 Replies to “Hypertension Medication Side Effects – What You Need to Know”

  1. I took atenolol for approximately 5 or 6 years, with no side effects. Then came breathing problems. I was on 3 different inhalers and rounds of prednisone, nothing helped, & I took my atenolol daily. Dr thought I had a heart problem but couldn’t find anything – then the light came on: STOP taking the atenolol! I did and breathing was back to normal. It was choking me. Dr told me bp meds are only to be used short term only (it says that on the prescriptions). For me, all bp meds I tried either didn’t work, or eventually brought on bad side effects.

  2. I was taking lasarton, Amlodipine and atenolol, I stopped taking lasarton after I found out 8 out of 10 ckd patients were taking lasarton my Dr sent me to a kidney doctor because my creatine was slightly elevated I’m going to have my Dr change everything, I’ll let you know what happens taking all this medicine didn’t lower my BP

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