Kalten (atenolol leaflet)

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 an uneven heartbeat.

Treatment is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly.

If you buy any cough or cold remedies, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take alongside atenolol.

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

About atenolol

Type of medicine Beta-adrenoceptor blocker (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used for High blood pressure, arrhythmias, and angina
Also called Tenormin®; Tenoret® and Tenoretic® (atenolol with chlortalidone); Kalten (atenolol with amiloride and hydrochlorothiazide) and Beta-Adalat® and Tenif® (atenolol with hydrochlorothiazide)
Available as Tablets, and oral liquid medicine

Atenolol slows down the activity of your heart by stopping messages sent by some nerves to your heart. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called beta-adrenergic receptors) where the messages are received by your heart. As a result, your heart beats more slowly and with less force. This allows the pressure of blood within your blood vessels to be reduced if you have hypertension (high blood pressure), and helps to prevent abnormally fast heart rhythms, or arrhythmias. Because your heart is using less energy, this also helps to reduce chest pain if you have angina.

Atenolol is also available in combination with other medicines used to treat high blood pressure and angina. Combination brands of atenolol with a diuretic ('water tablet') are Tenoret® and Tenoretic® (with chlortalidone), and Kalten® (with amiloride and hydrochlorothiazide). Combination brands of atenolol with the calcium-channel blocker nifedipine, are Beta-Adalat® and Tenif®.

Atenolol may be prescribed to help prevent migraine. The leaflet does not contain information about this use of atenolol. If you have been given it for this reason, ask your doctor if you have any questions about your treatment.

Before taking atenolol

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking atenolol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have problems with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
  • If you have asthma or breathing difficulties.
  • If you have sugar diabetes.
  • If you have psoriasis (a skin problem).
  • If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition causing muscle weakness).
  • If you have been told you have a slow heartbeat or heart block (a slow and irregular heartbeat).
  • If you have been told you have Prinzmetal's angina (chest pain caused by spasms of the heart's blood vessels).
  • If you have phaeochromocytoma (a tumour on your adrenal gland).
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other severe allergic reaction.

How to take atenolol

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about atenolol and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take atenolol exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usually taken once daily, in the morning. Some people taking it for angina may be prescribed two doses daily. Your doctor will tell you which is right for you, and your dose will also be on the label of the pack to remind you.
  • Atenolol tablets are available in three different strengths - 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg. Each time you collect a fresh supply of tablets, it's a good idea to check the strength on the packet to make sure they are the strength you are expecting.
  • Try to take atenolol at the same time of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take it.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • It is very important to follow any dietary and lifestyle advice that you may have been given by your doctor, such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking atenolol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure lowering effect of atenolol and so may not be recommended for you.
  • If you have diabetes, atenolol may block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking a beta-blocker.
  • Treatment with atenolol is usually long-term so continue to take these tablets unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor will probably want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. Some medicines (including some cough, cold and flu remedies) may not be.

Can atenolol cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common atenolol side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sick, stomach upset Stick to simple foods and drink plenty of water
Feeling dizzy, sleepy, tired or light-headed Getting up and moving more slowly may help. If you begin to feel dizzy, lie down so that you do not faint, then sit for a few moments before standing. This often improves after the first week or two, but if it continues, speak with your doctor
Less common side-effects include: cold fingers or toes, disturbed sleep, a slow heartbeat, impotence, reduced sexual desire, and abnormal dreams Speak with your doctor if any of these become troublesome

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store atenolol

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.