Sounds like 'a-ten-o-lol'

Easy-to-read medicine information about atenolol – what is it, how to take atenolol safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
Belongs to a group of medicines called beta-blockers Mylan Atenolol®

What is atenolol?

  • Atenolol is used mainly to lower high blood pressure. 
  • It can also be used to prevent chest pain (angina) or to treat an irregular heart beat. 
  • It works by blocking certain chemicals in the body, and in that way helps to slow the heart rate and lower blood pressure.
  • Atenolol is one of a group of medicines known as beta-blockers.


  • The dose of atenolol will be different for different people.
  • Your doctor will usually start you on a low dose, and increase the dose depending on how you respond. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces unwanted side effects.
  • Always take your atenolol exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much atenolol to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take atenolol

  • Swallow your atenolol tablet with a glass of water.
  • Take atenolol at the same time each day.
  • You can take atenolol with or without food.
  • Limit drinking alcohol while you are taking atenolol.
  • If you forget to take your tablet, take it as soon as you remember that day.
  • But, if it is nearly time for your next tablet, just take the next tablet at the right time. Do not take double the amount of tablets.
  • Do not stop taking atenolol suddenly; speak to your doctor or pharmacist before stopping.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, atenolol can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Problems falling asleep
  • Nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting
  • These are quite common when you first start taking atenolol, and usually go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint when you stand up
  • This is common when you first start taking atenolol.
  • Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting to avoid falls.
  • Changes in your heart beat (either too fast or irregular)
  • Tell your doctor
  • Problems with breathing such as chest tightness, or wheezing or swelling of the ankles or feet.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.


  • Atenolol may interact with a few medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting atenolol or before starting any new medicines.
  • Also, check with your pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medicines such as:
    • Cold and flu medicines containing phenylephrine (e.g. Sudafed PE)
    • Anti-inflammatories such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren Rapid), ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen), naproxen (e.g. Naprogesic).

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets:   Mylan Atenolol

New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: Atenolol

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Dr J Bycroft. Health Navigator NZ Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2014