Carvedilol, sold under the brand name Coreg, is a drug prescribed to treat hypertension and other heart conditions. Typically, it’s prescribed after first-line treatments have failed. Carvedilol belongs to a class of drugs known as beta-blockers. Other well-known beta-blockers include atenolol, bisoprolol, and metoprolol.
- How does carvedilol work?
- What foods should you avoid when taking carvedilol?
- What are the side effects of carvedilol?
- How many hours should you leave between doses of carvedilol?
- How long does carvedilol stay in your system?
- Why is it important to take carvedilol with food?
- How long does it take carvedilol to work?
- How do you stop taking carvedilol?
- What is the difference: carvedilol vs metoprolol?
1. How does carvedilol work?
The main goal of carvedilol, and other beta-blockers, is to reduce the workload and stress on the heart. To achieve this, carvedilol blocks the action of epinephrine hormones that increase heart rate, blood pressure, and general strain on the cardiovascular system. Carvedilol is also sometimes used following a heart attack to increase the chance of survival. Lowering blood pressure helps to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and kidney problems.
2. What foods should you avoid when taking carvedilol?
People taking carvedilol should avoid potassium. Patients should be careful consuming foods high in potassium because carvedilol increases potassium levels in some patients. Grapefruit juice may also increase the concentration of carvedilol in the blood, leading to adverse side effects, and should be avoided.
3. What are the side effects of carvedilol?
Carvedilol can potentially cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. The list below includes some of the most common side effects but is not a complete list. Mild side effects may go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen, you should speak with your doctor.
Common side effects:
- Weight gain
- Dry eyes or skin
- Reduced sex drive
Serious side effects:
- Irregular or slowed heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Liver problems (dark urine, vomiting, or yellow skin/eyes)
- Difficulty urinating
- Change in eyesight
In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking carvedilol.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
4. How many hours should you leave between doses of carvedilol?
After beginning treatment with carvedilol you’ll likely end up taking one dose in the morning, and one in the evening. You should try and make sure that you leave at least 10-12 hours between doses if you can. It’s recommended to get into a routine of taking carvedilol at the same time each day to ensure it can work properly.
5. How long does carvedilol stay in your system?
Carvedilol exits the body relatively quickly, which is why most patients will need to take it twice daily. The half-life, or the time it takes half of the drug to exit the body ranges between 7 and 10 hours, meaning within 24 hours it is usually entirely gone.
6. Why is it important to take carvedilol with food?
It’s incredibly important to take carvedilol with food, especially when first starting treatment. Carvedilol causes orthostatic hypotension (blood pressure dropping quickly due to standing from a sitting or lying position) which increases the chance of dizziness or fainting. Taking it with food, delays the drug peak level (highest concentration of drug blood) which helps minimize the adverse effects of fainting. Since carvedilol lowers blood pressure, it’s possible to lower it too far, even to the point of losing consciousness. Taking carvedilol with food helps maintain safe blood pressure, reducing the chances of adverse side effects or fainting.
7. How long does it take carvedilol to work?
Carvedilol works very fast, usually taking some effect in as little as one hour. However, patients shouldn’t expect to experience its full benefits until they’ve been taking it consistently for at least a couple of weeks.
8. How do you stop taking carvedilol?
You should never stop taking carvedilol or alter your dosage without first consulting with your doctor. Stopping treatment incorrectly can lead to irregular heartbeat, chest pain, or even a heart attack. If you and your doctor decide that you need to stop carvedilol treatment, you’ll need to work together to create a step-down plan.
9. What is the difference: carvedilol vs metoprolol?
Carvedilol and metoprolol are both beta-blockers and are used to treat many of the same conditions. There are, however, differences when it comes to dosage indication, side effects, and effect on blood pressure. Due to the similarities of the two drugs, it’s common for patients to switch from one to the other if unresponsive to therapy.
While the exact dosage of each medication will depend on the condition being treated, carvedilol's dose strength is smaller numerically, as compared to metoprolol. Both medications are given in oral tablet form. Metoprolol is also approved to treat angina pectoris, a condition that carvedilol is not approved for. One very important difference is the frequency of side effects. Adverse effects such as dizziness are only reported by around 10% of patients taking metoprolol, while they’re reported by over 30% of patients taking carvedilol. Finally, carvedilol may lower blood pressure by a greater amount than metoprolol, due to its vasodilating properties that relax blood vessels.
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