Metoprolol is categorized in a group of drugs known as beta-blockers. These drugs affect how blood flows through the heart and veins. When a patient is suffering from serious heart or circulation related complications, Metoprolol is administered to help relieve the tension so the blood can flow more easily. Any time you are required to take heart medication, it is essential that you have a doctor regularly monitor your condition. Your dosage may need to be adjusted depending on how your body reacts to the medication and how your condition progresses. You may also need to adjust portions of your lifestyle in order for Metoprolol to have the needed effect on your body.
Indications and Usage
Metoprolol is typically used to treat high blood pressure or angina. You may also be prescribed Metoprolol to reduce the pain that occurs after surviving a heart attack. It is not uncommon to see this medication combined with other drugs such as beta blockers to help relax the blood vessels and slow the heart rate. Some patients are prescribed Metoprolol to prevent migraines or to treat irregular heartbeat. In these cases, prescriptions or uses may be different than those on the packaging, so talk to your doctor before starting your regimen.
When taking Metoprolol, you will typically be given an extended release tablet that you will take orally once or twice a day. It is recommended that you take the pills around the same time every day, but this is just to assist patients in remembering to take the drug. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you take your prescription with food. You should not increase or decrease your medication at any time without direct orders from a medical professional. It will take a few weeks before the full effect of the medication goes into effect, so it is especially important that you take the drug regularly during this time period. You may be prescribed a low-sodium diet to assist the effects of the medication or to help control your heart-related issues.
Most patients are given one fast release tablet per dose, or 100 mg per day in divided doses. The maximum intake level of Metoprolol is 400 mg per day. In order to avoid overdosing conditions, you should not take more than one dose at a time, even if you miss a regular dosing period. You may take a dose late if you forget, as long as it is not too close to the next dosing period. In many cases, doctors will start the patient out on a lower dose and work up to this amount. For these purposes it is safe to split the tablet, though it should not be crushed or chewed.
Pregnant women may continue to take Metoprolol if the benefits outweigh the risks involved. The exact risk of taking this drug during pregnancy is currently unknown. If you are pregnant and currently taking Metoprolol, let your doctor know so you can work together to determine the best way to proceed.
Metoprolol should not be given to young children, especially those under the age of two, as they are at a higher risk to develop side effects. No research exists to establish the safety concerns of giving Metoprolol to those under the age of six, so proceed with caution if this is deemed necessary for your child. Children are commonly given 1-2 mg per day in 2 doses. Those between the ages of 6-16 are usually started on half of a tablet until the doctor can determine how the patient will react to the drug.
There are no specific warnings for seniors, but if you are on several other substances for heart or lung related issues it is essential that you inform your doctor before starting this regimen. Those who have liver disease may also be at risk for developing severe side effects to Metoprolol because it may take longer to filter the drug from your system. Those with liver disease are also at a higher risk for developing poor hepatic function, so doses should be started out very low and increased gradually to avoid complications. You should not take Metoprolol if you are on dialysis.
Metoprolol Side Effects
The most common side effect that is caused by Metoprolol is an allergic reaction. Inform your doctor about any medical allergies you are aware of before starting this prescription to cut down on the risk that you will suffer from this condition. If you notice any hives, swelling, difficulty breathing or itchiness while taking your prescription, contact your doctor right away to determine whether or not you should keep taking Metoprolol.
Other common side effects of Metoprolol include stomach pain, vomiting heartburn, constipation, dry mouth, gas or bloating. Many of these can be alleviated if the patient makes a point of taking their prescription along with a meal. You may also find that your symptoms decrease as your body becomes accustomed to the medication.
You may also experience runny nose, cold hands and feet, depression, dizziness or fatigue. You should always inform your doctor about any side affects you experience while on Metoprolol, especially if they do not get better or they interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis. In most cases, these side effects are mild and not life threatening.
In rare cases patients have reported instances of wheezing, shortness of breath, fainting, unexplained weight gain, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. These can be signs of a serious condition and should be reported to your doctor right away. If it appears as though you are having a heart attack or your trouble breathing may cause you to lose consciousness then contact emergency medical services. These could also be the sign of an overdose. If any of the symptoms above are combined with swelling of the hands, feet, ankles or legs then call a poison control center and an emergency medical team to get help as quickly as possible.
In the little bit of human research that has been done, Metoprolol has been shown to increase the chance that a pregnant woman will give birth to a fetus with birth defects. These include small placentas and slowed intrauterine growth as well. The mother also saw instances of low heart rate, low blood sugar and decreased breathing during birth when they were taking Metoprolol. These side effects were not particularly common, but it is still vital that you evaluate this risk before continuing with your prescription.
You should inform your doctor about any medications you are taking before you start taking Metoprolol. It is especially important that you inform your doctor if you are taking digoxin, clonidine, ritonavir, terbinafine, any diuretics, cold medicines, diet pills or diabetes medication. These will directly affect how your body reacts to Metoprolol and whether or not your body will absorb it correctly.
You should also avoid taking additional heart medications such as other beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, arrhythmia medications or some antidepressants. These could lead to the risk of overdosing because these medications have very similar compositions and ingredients to Metoprolol.
Any substances that directly impact your circulation or heart should be avoided while you are on Metoprolol. This includes alcohol and narcotics. Some patients also reported adverse side effects while consuming high amounts of grapefruits while on Metoprolol. In many cases doctors will prescribe diet and exercise changes for patients using this drug. If you are using Metoprolol to treat a very serious heart condition, you may actually need to reduce the amount of exercise you do until your heart is strong enough for this activity.