Propranolol

Propranolol

Propranolol is a medication that belongs to a group of drugs called beta blockers. Beta blockers are typically used for the treatment of high blood pressure, shaking, anxiety attacks, and irregular heartbeats. More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Propranolol is a form of non-selective beta blocker designed to reduce blood pressure and slow down the rhythm of the heart. The substance allows the heart to pump more easily, which can reduce your risk of things like strokes or heart attacks. Propranolol can also be useful in the treatment of anxiety or panic attacks.  

What is Propranolol? 

Propranolol is a medication that belongs to a group of drugs called beta blockers. Beta blockers are typically used for the treatment of high blood pressure, shaking, anxiety attacks, and irregular heartbeats. As a non-selective beta blocker, Propranolol can help to reduce your blood pressure and slow down your heart. Additionally, this medication can reduce the heart's need for oxygen, making it easier for the heart to operate normally.  

Propranolol is sometimes prescribed following a heart attack to improve a person's chances of survival, and it can also be used to reduce chest pain and angina. Reducing high blood pressure with Propranolol can help to prevent serious issues like heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems.  

When is Propranolol used? 

Propranolol is a beta blocker medication that can be used to treat a range of medical conditions. It works by changing the way that the blood vessels and the heart work. With Propranolol, it is possible to reduce and slow down the activity in your heart by stopping the messages that certain nerves send to the cardiac system. Propranolol blocks tiny receptors in your body which is where messages are received by the heart. When you take Propranolol, your heart will beat with less force, and more slowly, allowing the pressure in your blood vessels to be reduced.  

Because using Propranolol also allows your heart to use less energy for pumping blood around the body, it can also reduce feelings of pain caused by conditions like angina pectoris. Propranolol can also be a valuable medication for people to take after they have had a heart attack, as it allows the heart to work under less pressure.  

Propranolol is used in the treatment of various other conditions too, such as anxiety. The substance can stop symptoms like a fast heartbeat and uncontrollable shaking in people having a panic attack. Additionally, Propranolol can be used tin the treatment of migraines and headaches too.  

How do you use Propranolol? 

Before taking any new medication, it is important to make sure that you know how to use it safely and correctly. Listen to the instructions that your doctor gives you on how to take Propranolol, and make sure that you read through the instructions provided in the patient leaflet too. If you have any questions when getting this medication, make sure that you bring them up with your pharmacist or doctor.  

Propranolol pills need to be taken at the same time each day to have the best effect. Usually, you will need to take this medication in divided doses spread out throughout the day. You might take Propranolol two or three times in total throughout each day. Propranolol should be swallowed with a glass of water - do not open or chew the capsules or tablets.  

Propranolol can be taken with or without food, and this substance is available as both a pill, and as an oral solution. If you are taking the pill, you can take it with water as normal according to the instructions given by your doctor. If you are using the oral solution, make sure that you use the dosing syringe provided with your medication to ensure that you're getting the right amount.  

What dosages are there? 

Propranolol is available in a number of different strengths. Most people will be prescribed an amount of between 10mg and 40mg spread throughout the course of the day. Your doctor will tell you what dosage to take based on your condition and your background. Propranolol will need to be taken regularly and at a similar time each day for the best results.  

Taking your dose of Propranolol at the same time each day will help you to remember to take them. You may also want to set an alarm to remind you to use your medication consistently. Do not take more Propranolol than your doctor prescribes, as this can increase your risk of dangerous side effects and may lead to an overdose.  

If you forget to take a dose of Propranolol when you were supposed to, take the tablet as soon as you remember, unless the next dose is already due. If you are due another dose, then simply take the pill as normal, and forget about the missed dose. Do not take multiple doses of Propranolol together to make up for a missed pill.  

What are the side effects of Propranolol? 

Many people will tolerate Propranolol well without any side effects, but it is possible that you could have an adverse reaction to this medication. Tiredness, lightheadedness and dizziness are often common when your body is first getting used to this medication. Additionally, you may notice stomach pain, nausea, or trouble sleeping when you initially take the drug. Tell your doctor if these side effects get worse.  

In some cases, Propranolol can reduce the blood flow to your feet and hands, causing them to feel cold. Smoking can worsen this side effect. You should tell your doctor immediately if you notice any unlikely yet serious side effects of Propranolol, including changes in your mood, numbness or tingling in your fingers or toes, arms or legs, or worsening symptoms of heart failure like swelling ankles or shortness of breath. Talk to your doctor if you experience sudden weight gain, a slow heartbeat, decreased sexual functioning, fainting, increased urination or thirst.  

Speak to your doctor immediately if you notice signs of easy bruising or bleeding, or evidence that you may be suffering from an infection. A very serious allergic reaction to Propranolol is rare, but if you notice a rash, itching, or swelling around the face or throat, contact an emergency health provider immediately.  

When shouldn't you use Propranolol? 

Your doctor will need to conduct a full medical assessment with you before giving you Propranolol to ensure that this medication is safe for you to take. Although many patients respond well to Propranolol for a range of conditions, this will not be the right drug for everyone. For instance, it is usually not a good idea to take Propranolol if you have ever had an adverse reaction to any other beta blockers, or you have any allergies that may be affected by this medication.  

In some cases, Propranolol can include active and inactive ingredients that cause allergic reactions, so read through the ingredients carefully. Before you use Propranolol, tell your doctor about your complete medical history, drawing attention to any breathing problems such as asthma or COPD, or issues with your heart failure or heart rhythm. You should also make sure that your doctor is aware of any evidence of an overactive thyroid in your history, liver disease, or kidney disease.  

Propranolol may not be appropriate for you if you have blood circulation problems, certain forms of tumor, or mood disorders like depression. Additionally, avoid Propranolol if you have a nerve or muscle disease.  

In some cases, for people with diabetes this product could mask the pounding or fast heartbeat that you would typically feel when your blood sugar drops to a level that is lower than normal. Other symptoms of low blood sugar like sweating and dizziness will not be affected by this medication. Propranolol might make it harder for you to control your blood sugar, so it's important to tell your doctor immediately if you experience high blood pressure symptoms, like higher levels of urination or third. You might need to adjust the way that you deal with diabetes.  

In some people, Propranolol can cause dizziness or difficulty with balance. Alcohol and other substances can worsen this effect. Do not use your car if you don't feel confident driving after taking Propranolol.  

Does Propranolol interact with any other medications? 

Medications like Propranolol can sometimes interact with other substances and cause them to work in a different way, or have different side effects. It is important to tell your doctor about any medications that you might already be taking before you use Propranolol. This includes any drugs that you have gotten without a prescription, purchased over the counter, or about any supplements or herbal remedies that you are taking. 

Alpha blockers like prazosin, anticholinergics, aluminum hydroxide, chlorpromazine, and drugs affecting the way that your liver enzymes work can all be affected negatively by Propranolol. Additionally, you should not take Propranolol with certain medications for depression, like fluoxetine, St John's wort, and paroxetine. Do not use Propranolol with HIV protease inhibitors and drugs for the treatment of high blood pressure like clonidine. As mentioned it is used in caution with diabetic medication and with other medication that can effect your blood pressure. Some products may have substances that increase your blood pressure or heart rate. Tell your doctor what you are using to ensure that Propranolol is safe for you.  

In some cases, Propranolol may affect the results of certain lab tests, including stress testing for the cardiovascular system and glaucoma screening tests. Make sure that your lab doctors know that you are taking Propranolol.  

Where can you buy Propranolol? 

Propranolol is available from a number of high-quality and regulated pharmacies. 

Can you get Propranolol without a prescription?  

Propranolol is not available without a prescription as it may be dangerous for some people to take. You will need to have a consultation with a doctor before you can get this drug.  

Sources 

BNF Nice, 2019, online, Propranolol Hydrochloride [Accessed 14th of November 2019], Available at: https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/propranolol-hydrochloride.html 

NHS online, 2019 "Propranolol" [Accessed 14th of November 2019], Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/propranolol/  

Web MD, online, 2019 "Propranolol HCL" [Accessed 14th of November 2019], Available at: https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-10404-9168/propranolol-oral/propranolol-oral/details 

Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741366

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.