Bisoprolol - a beta-blocker

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Treatment with bisoprolol is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly unless you are told otherwise.

There are several different strengths of tablet. If your tablets look unexpectedly different from before, ask your pharmacist to check them for you.

The most common side-effects are feeling tired, cold fingers or toes, headache and stomach upset.

Type of medicine A beta-adrenoceptor blocking drug (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used for High blood pressure
Angina
Heart failure
Also called Cardicor®; Congescor®; Emcor®
Available as Tablets

Bisoprolol 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. The pressure of blood within your blood vessels is reduced and it is easier for your heart to pump blood around your body. This is of benefit if you have hypertension where your blood pressure is too high, or if you have heart failure which is a condition where your heart is not working as well as it should. Because your heart is using less energy, it also helps to reduce chest pain if you have angina.

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 bisoprolol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
  • If you have asthma or breathing difficulties.
  • If you have 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.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of bisoprolol you have been given, and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take bisoprolol exactly as your doctor has told you. The usual dose is one tablet each day, although the strength of your tablet will depend upon the reason why you are taking it. If you are taking it for heart failure, you will be started on a low-strength tablet and then you will be prescribed a different strength of tablet each week for the first few weeks. This is so your doctor can increase your dose gradually. Your dose and the strength of the tablets will be on the label of your pack to remind you.
  • Try to take your doses of bisoprolol at the same time each day as this will help you to remember to take them. They are best taken in the morning.
  • Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. You can take bisoprolol before or after a meal, but do not chew the tablets.
  • 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.
  • 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 bisoprolol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure lowering effect of bisoprolol and so may not be recommended for you.
  • If you have diabetes, bisoprolol 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 bisoprolol 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 to take with bisoprolol. This is because some medicines (including some cough, cold and flu remedies) may affect the way bisoprolol works.

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 bisoprolol side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
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 usually improves after the first week or two, but if it continues, speak with your doctor
Feeling or being sick, diarrhoea or constipation Stick to simple foods and drink plenty of water
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor
Cold fingers or toes, disturbed sleep, slow heartbeat Speak with your doctor if any of these become troublesome
Other less common side-effects include 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.

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

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine, ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 64th Edition (Sep 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
3450 (v23)
Last Checked:
10/12/2012
Next Review:
10/12/2015
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