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Carvedilol Patient Tips

Medically reviewed on Aug 10, 2017 by C. Fookes, BPharm.

How it works

  • Carvedilol is a heart medication that works on alpha and beta receptors present in blood vessels and muscle.
  • Carvedilol has a 'non-selective' action - this means that it not only affects beta receptors in the heart, it also affects beta receptors in the lungs (this may cause breathing difficulties in people with preexisting lung disease). Carvedilol's alpha blocking activity means it helps to dilate (keep open) blood vessels around the heart.
  • Carvedilol belongs to the class of medicines known as beta blockers/alpha-1 blockers.

Upsides

  • Used for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). May be used alone or in combination with other medicines for high blood pressure.
  • Can be used to treat mild-to-severe heart failure, usually in addition to other agents, to increase the chance of survival and decrease the risk of hospitalization.
  • May be used following a heart attack (myocardial infarction) in people with a poor left ventricular ejection fraction of 40% or less.
  • Generic carvedilol is available.

Downsides

If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Treatment initiation may be associated with transient symptoms of dizziness and lightheadedness within the first hour after dosing. Avoid driving or operating machinery during this time if affected.
  • May cause fluid retention, which may be relieved by diuretics prescribed by a doctor.
  • May aggravate peripheral circulatory disorders, cause a number of unwanted heart-related effects, and may affect breathing, so response must be monitored.
  • May cause tiredness, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, weight gain and laboratory abnormalities.
  • Generally not recommended for people with asthma or other types of bronchospastic disease; deaths related to breathing difficulties have been reported following single doses of carvedilol tablets. Also not suitable for people with certain heart conditions, or severe liver disease.
  • Abrupt discontinuation may precipitate an exacerbation of angina or more severe heart conditions (eg, heart attack) in people with coronary artery disease. Discontinue only under a doctors advice over a minimum of one to two weeks.
  • May also cause worsening of heart failure during up-titration.
  • Can mask symptoms of hypoglycemia in people with diabetes. Can also cause hyperglycemia in heart failure patients with diabetes. Blood glucose levels should be monitored when carvedilol is initiated, adjusted or discontinued.
  • May interact with some drugs including cyclosporine, digoxin, amiodarone, insulin, other drugs used for heart disease, and some anesthetics.
  • Not approved for children under the age of 18.

Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.

Bottom Line

Carvedilol blocks both alpha and beta receptors to lower blood pressure and improve how the heart pumps blood. It is not usually recommended for people with pre-existing breathing problems.

Tips

  • Take with food to reduce the risk of orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure on standing).
  • Dosage needs to be individualized and it may take some time to establish the correct dosage.
  • Seek medical advice if you notice your heart rate has significantly slowed.
  • Do not discontinue carvedilol without a doctors advice.
  • Tell your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or weight gain when taking Carvedilol.
  • Get up slowly from a sitting or lying down position to standing as carvedilol may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure.
  • Avoid driving or operating machinery if carvedilol makes you dizzy or tired.
  • Report any changes in blood sugar levels to your doctor if you have diabetes.
  • Contact lens wearers may notice carvedilol decreases the natural lubrication of the eye; lubricant eye drops may be needed.
  • Dosage adjustment may be needed carvedilol makes you feel dizzy or faint; seek medical advice. Do not drive or operate machinery if you feel dizzy from carvedilol tablets. Alcohol may enhance these side effects, so is best avoided.

Response and Effectiveness

  • Effects of carvedilol (blood pressure lowering, reduction in exercise-induced heart rate) are usually seen within 30-60 minutes of administration. Blood pressure is usually noticeably lower in the standing rather than the sitting or lying down position.

References

Carvedilol [Package Insert]. Revised 06/2017. Zydus Pharmaceuticals(USA) Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/carvedilol.html

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use carvedilol only for the indication prescribed.
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Copyright 1996-2017 Drugs.com. Revision Date: 2017-08-10 22:53:21

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