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What Are the Common Side Effects of Carvedilol?

Carvedilol may mask the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Carvedilol may be given to a patient after a heart attack.
Carvedilol is a medication used to treat high blood pressure.
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  • Written By: Deborah Walker
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2014
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Carvedilol is a beta blocker prescribed to people with heart failure and high blood pressure. It relaxes blood vessels, slows heart rate, improves the flow of blood, and decreases blood pressure. Side effects of carvedilol may include fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness on standing, fluid retention, diarrhea, high blood sugar, and weight gain. those taking certain medications and women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid taking carvedilol. This drug should be discontinued slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Tablet and extended-release formulations are available in doses of 3.125 mg, 6.5 mg, 12.5 and 25 mg. People with high blood pressure often take 6.5-25 mg twice a day with food. Those taking the extended-release version usually take one pill in the prescribed dose in the morning with food. Both forms of carvedilol should be swallowed whole rather than chewed.

The most common side effects of carvedilol are fatigue, dizziness, fluid retention, diarrhea, and lightheadedness on standing. One study found that 32% of participants complained of dizziness and 24% of participants experienced fatigue while taking the drug. This same study reported 12% of people had diarrhea and 12% had high blood sugar. Weight gain occurred in 10% of subjects. Most of these side effects dissipated over the course of the study.

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This medication can mask signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Those who take insulin or oral medication for diabetes may need to monitor blood sugar more closely when on carvedilol. The drug should not be taken with calcium channel blockers such as verapamil or diltiazem. There is an increased chance of developing an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure when these medications are combined with carvedilol.

Some medications are eliminated along the same pathways in the liver as is carvedilol. This may increase the amount of the drug in the bloodstream and enhance side effects of carvedilol. Some of these drugs include propafenone, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and quinidine.

The impact that this mediciation has on fetal development is unknown at this time. As such, pregnant or nursing women should not take carvediloll. The drug passes through breast milk and may sedate the infant or lower her heart rate.

If carvedilol is discontinued abruptly, the patient may experience withdrawal effects in the form of very significant heart problems. The withdrawal side effects of carvedilol, are known to be heart attack, irregular heartbeat, or severe chest pain. Most patients are weaned off the drug in about two weeks. If any of these side effects manifest as patients are slowly coming off of carvedilol, doctors often advise restarting the drug immediately. Patients should also limit their physical activity while they discontinue the medication.

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