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Old 04-23-2012, 12:23 PM   #1
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Coming off Atenolol

Hi,

I have a few questions regarding Atenolol and coming off it.

Some background first. I have a pacemaker for complete heart block (given to me by doctors error during an ablation). I am 40 years old and up until 3 years ago when I had this pm put it I was an elite cyclist. And until 1 year ago when I changed the pm I had to the current one (in order to achieve higher heart rates, but the new pm has caused me a lot of problems and I have not been able to exercise at all, now I am scheduled for another change of pm next week) I was still riding my bike about 250 miles a week.

I was having some weird problems with my pm settings where the rate response was turned on when it should have been off. This caused me to get frequent episodes of "tachycardia" during the day. I use quotes because it was show after my rate response was turned off that I no longer had these episodes. Up until the moment we shut off the rate response we didn't know whether it was the pacemaker doing it or if it was physiological in nature. The doctor prescribed me 25mg of Atenolol in Nov. 2011, I reluctantly started to take it. Almost immediately I started with cold hands and feet, and I noticed I was getting really anxious and started having nightmares. After two months of still having these "episodes" I explained it to him again and he said I could either take Sotalol, which I would have to go into the hospital to start, or start taking 50mg of Atenolol, so in Jan. 2012 I started with the higher dose.

The anxiety grew and the nightmares were now nightly. One day, after about a month and a half, I sat down to work and felt like I was about to black out, I started to panic so I decided to go take a walk and "shake it off". I walked about a mile and really felt I was going to pass out. I walked into a pharmacy and had them take my pressure, it was 85/45 (I should say that I have never had, nor do I currently have high blood pressure) , after just walking a mile! I was so panicked. For the rest of the day I could not move and had it not been for my pacemaker pacing me at a minimum 45 bpm I think my heart rate would have easily been in the low 30's.

This is where and when my panic attacks started. I was terrified the next day to take the 50mg. It got so bad that I was terrified to leave the house, and I would spend everyday, all day, scared. When I explained these things I was feeling to the nurse she said that it was odd. I tried to explain that I wanted to stop taking it, but since I was having fast heart rates I was told to continue.

I started splitting the dose into 2 25mg doses, one in the morning and one at night. Then I started taking 25mg/morning and 12.5mg/night. I stayed on it for a couple of weeks. The anxiety, panic and fear did not abate at all. Then I started taking only the 25mg in the morning, I was still completely lethargic, depressed, and full of the anxiety, panic, and fear all day long.

At this time we changed my settings and the "episodes" went away. I had always known that it was the pacemaker and not my heart but there was no way to prove it. I understand why the doctor gave it to me and I agree that it was right thing to do seeing as how it could have been my heart doing it. But the problem was I was stuck on this medication which I didn't need. Coming off the med was never a conversation, that's more my fault than it is the doctors, I just never really conveyed to him how it was affecting me, believe it or not I was too scared to talk about it! I was in my own private misery.

To continue, after a week I further cut down the dose to 12.5mg, still felt the same. Then I cut that down to 6.25mg (from 50mg pill, you could imagine I was licking dust off my hand). I stayed there for a week and have now been without the medication for 2 days.

I am not as tired as I was before, but I still have the fear and anxiety. More so now that I keep reading you should never stop taking Atenolol without being under doctors supervision, and I agree wholeheartedly. My anxiety is stemming from the fact that I am feeling a lot of palpitations and maybe PVC's and also from reading that stopping it can cause or contribute to coronary artery disease.

Now, can anyone give me advice? Though I didn't do it under doctors order did I wean off it appropriately? And, more importantly, what is and how long is the "high risk period" after stopping Atenolol. Am I in any danger? I do have high cholesterol. What are these effects I am feeling and how long will they last?

Thank you everyone, just writing out this (too long) post as helped me a bit.

(disclaimer: I just made up this "weaning" schedule WITHOUT doctors permission. I DO NOT recommend, and I am fully against, anyone following it in order to come of this medication. PLEASE SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.)

 
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:20 PM   #2
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Vyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB UserVyking HB User
Re: Coming off Atenolol

I don't have any experience coming off Beta Blockers.
I take Sotalol myself and haven't had any problems - it did make me feel a bit week and tired for about a month but that gradually went away.

Was their any reason you didn't change to Sotalol, was it because they told you that you needed to be hospitalized to start it?

 
Old 04-24-2012, 05:30 AM   #3
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montekrysto HB User
Re: Coming off Atenolol

Hi Vyking,

Thanks for replying. I didn't go on Sotalol for two reasons: one, I had to be hospitalized and two, after taking the Atenolol we discovered that it was my pacemaker making mischief and I didn't need any beta blocker at all.

 
Old 04-26-2012, 09:23 PM   #4
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Kimarl HB User
Re: Coming off Atenolol

My internist weaned me off 25mg Atenolol exactly how you did it..I,too,even licked the dust. It had put me into a TIA & I ended up on the stroke ward my BP dropped to 70/35 then to 50/35. Thank goodness I had no damage. I,too, was always active. Rollerblading 10 miles a day. I've been completely off for 8 days now and symptoms are lessening..Still

 
Old 04-27-2012, 05:30 AM   #5
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Re: Coming off Atenolol

Kimarl,

That is terrible!! I'm so sorry you went through that. Was that a direct result of stopping Atenolol? How do you feel now? What are your symptoms? What was the reason you were put on it and for how long did you take it?

It seems as if my symptoms are getting stronger, I am now having episodes of tachycardia every time I stand up or walk, pick up my daughter or walk up the stairs. I am also very shaky and jittery and very anxious, the only thing I can compare it to it being over caffeinated. I am thinking about taking a small dose today, probably 12.5 mg and stay at that until I see my doctor.

Good luck Kim, please keep me informed as to how you are doing.

 
Old 04-27-2012, 05:38 AM   #6
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Re: Coming off Atenolol

tLnDraGon,

(I notice I don't see your post anymore but I hope you will get this).

Thank you for your reply. Since I can't get in touch with my doctor until Monday I did what you suggested, I spoke with a pharmacist. She suggested that I start taking a small amount of Atenolol again. She said that although I tapered correctly it still may have been too fast for my body.

 
Old 04-27-2012, 08:27 PM   #7
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Re: Coming off Atenolol

Quote:
Originally Posted by montekrysto View Post
Kimarl,

That is terrible!! I'm so sorry you went through that. Was that a direct result of stopping Atenolol? How do you feel now? What are your symptoms? What was the reason you were put on it and for how long did you take it?

It seems as if my symptoms are getting stronger, I am now having episodes of tachycardia every time I stand up or walk, pick up my daughter or walk up the stairs. I am also very shaky and jittery and very anxious, the only thing I can compare it to it being over caffeinated. I am thinking about taking a small dose today, probably 12.5 mg and stay at that until I see my doctor.

Good luck Kim, please keep me informed as to how you are doing.

 
Old 04-27-2012, 08:52 PM   #8
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Re: Coming off Atenolol

I am still getting tachy palms and my BP/HR are still fluctuating. I could also feel them when I stood up or even at night when I rolled over on my left side. They even would wake me up..I am also getting back some of my energy.. Going back to the gym but very gradual. I went on metapranol 25 mg in Dec for BP/HR spiking it was up to 200/120- 120HR then would come down for awhile then back up. It started about 1 1/2 yrs ago when I was getting severe back pain..I was put on Verapamil 120 & controlled.. Then as the pain increased, so did the BP spiking. I had been getting back injections for pain & then Nov I noticed the pain had changed.. On to the Beta Blocker metapranol & finally had another MRI. They found I had broken part of the external L1 disk & the bone had worked down to the L3/L4 & logged in the spinal canal. Had to have surgery right away.. Had to have cardiac panel first because of the BP situation & already on Betas. Cardiac was great except for MVP which I had since childhood with no problems. The. Cardiologist had me stop the Beta 4 days before surgery even though I didn't agree with this. I said I was very sensitive to meds and would rather do this after surgery.. Well I did stop & the day before surgery my BP started to drop then spike.. During surgery is when I went into Afib after I got off the stroke ward a couple days later is when I went on Atenolol. Felt great at first, then knees started to hurt, terrible fatique and my hair started to fall out.. That's when I went to my Internist & she guided me off.
Getting off was terrifying for me. I was scared I would have another TIA. But shofar it has been uncomfortable, unpredictable and sometimes felt hopeless.. But the complications of stopping are lessening & I'm not afraid to go to sleep anymore..
By the way, I was a mod weightlifter for over 20 yrs while also rollerblading.. I broke that disk 4 yrs ago squatting 135lbs. Just about my weight at the time.. We had done a major move & I slacked off for a coule months... I still know the moment it happened but didn't realize it til the last MRI was done..
There are cardiac specialists that are able to deal with folks le us who don't tolerate these kinds of meds-BetaBlockers. You may have one in your town. They are Cardiac Physiologists.. Very specialized but I understand they can also help find alternative treatmts and/meds for BP & cardiac situations..
Keep me informed. Hopefully you will start feeling less symptomatic..

 
Old 05-07-2012, 08:35 AM   #9
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Re: Coming off Atenolol

I'm sorry that you all are having trouble with the Atenolol but I wanted to say thank you too! I stopped taking Atenolol just recently, under the direction of my doc, and nothing was ever said about weaning off of it. I was only on it for about 5-6 weeks but I feel bad even after it almost being a week! I read a few basic website info on other places than here and there was no mention of really any ill side effects like what I and people here have had. I hope everyone has since found some relief and feeling better!

OhHappyDay

 
Old 05-08-2012, 05:44 PM   #10
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Re: Coming off Atenolol

Your post caught my eye because I WAS told by my Doctor to stop taking Atenolol 2 days prior to a stress test. I had been on it for 5 yrs. and was having an exercise stress test because of an abnormal EKG. By the time I got on the treadmill, I had missed almost 3 doses (25 mg was my daily dosage ) and went into A-Fib after about 3 minutes. My heart was back in sinus ryhthm by the time I got to the hospital.I had a heart cath the next day. I have never been so afraid !! I was found to have some blockages ( 2 ) but not enough to justify a stent.
My opinion is this and I told my doctor: 25mg was probably a minimal dosage for me and stopping it abruptly like that was a shock to my system ! He changed me Meteprolol 50 mg. I think the way you gradually reduced the dosages was a good strategy...I will never stop " cold turkey " like that again - No matter who tells me to !

 
Old 05-11-2012, 07:40 AM   #11
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Kimarl HB User
Re: Coming off Atenolol

I am so sorry you had to experience the same type situation with Atenolol rebound.. Before the Atenolol , I was on Metoprolol 25mg. which gave me severe nightmares.Either way, it was the Betas that caused the withdrawal reaction.. I was on lowest dose each time and only took them for about 3 mos.
I have been completely free of them for about 4 wks now.. My symptoms have pretty much subsided. I was also on the lowest Verapamil when all this came down. So when I started weaning down off the Beta, my interest upped my verapamil another half dose at night.. This I really believe helped with the withdrawal reaction also. I now have dropped the half dose of Verapamil and next month will attempt the last of the Verapamil. My BP/HR now is lower than when I was on the maxed amts of the Atenolol with the Verapamil. That is why we're going to try to get off the Verapamil next.. Although my situation they attribute to pain, I also gained a good 10 lbs which I need to start working on..
My best to you and it was a terrifying experience for me.. Hopefully just the support I can give will help you or anyone else to find an alternative way other than Betas..

 
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