Metoprolol - a beta-blocker - Lopresor

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Metoprolol is used to treat a number of different conditions. If you are unsure why you are taking it, speak with your doctor.

Continue to take the tablets regularly unless your doctor tells you to stop.

The most common side-effects are feeling tired or dizzy, feeling breathless, headache, and stomach upset.

Type of medicine A beta-adrenoceptor blocking medicine (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used for Hypertension; angina; arrhythmias; to protect the heart; thyroid problems; to prevent migraines
Also called Lopresor®
Available as Tablets and sustained-release tablets

Metoprolol belongs to the group of medicines known as beta-blockers. It is a medicine which is used to treat several different medical conditions. It works on the heart and blood vessels.

Metoprolol 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 (arrhythmias). Because your heart is using less energy, this helps to reduce chest pain if you have angina. Metoprolol can also help to protect the heart following a heart attack.

Metoprolol is also prescribed to help ease some of the symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland, such as a fast heartbeat and trembling. It relieves these symptoms quickly, which allows time for other antithyroid treatments to take effect. Metoprolol is also prescribed to help prevent migraines. It can be helpful for people who find other treatments for migraine unsuitable.

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 metoprolol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have asthma or any other breathing disorder.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
  • If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
  • If you have diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes).
  • If you have a skin problem called psoriasis.
  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • 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 chest pain called Prinzmetal's angina (caused by spasms of your heart's blood vessels).
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other serious allergic reaction.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about metoprolol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Your doctor will tell you what dose is right for you, and this information will be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you. Take metoprolol exactly as your doctor tells you to. You may be prescribed one, two, three or four doses to take each day, depending upon your medical condition. Try to take your doses at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take the tablets regularly. It is recommended that you take your doses before meals.
  • If you are prescribed a sustained-release tablet (these have the letters 'SR' after the brand name) they have a more prolonged action and are prescribed to be taken once daily, in the morning. SR tablets must be swallowed whole - do not chew or break the tablets.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless your next dose is due. If your next dose is due then take the tablet which is due but leave out the forgotten one. Do not take two doses together to make up for missing one.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Treatment with metoprolol can often be long-term. Continue to take the tablets unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.
  • If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, it is important to tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking a beta-blocker. This is because some anaesthetics may increase the risk of unwanted effects.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking metoprolol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure lowering effect of metoprolol and so may not be recommended for you.
  • 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.
  • Your doctor may give you dietary and lifestyle advice about eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise. If so, it is important that you follow the advice you are given.
  • If you have diabetes, metoprolol can block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will advise you about this.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with metoprolol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common metoprolol side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy, tired or light-headed (especially when getting up from a sitting or lying down position) Getting up more slowly may help. If you begin to feel faint, sit down for a few minutes until the feeling passes. Do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better
Feeling or being sick, abdominal pain, stomach upset Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Slow heartbeat, feeling breathless, cold hands or feet Speak with your doctor if these become troublesome

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

  • 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

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:
3448 (v26)
Last Checked:
23/07/2014
Next Review:
22/07/2017
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