Atenolol is a prescription medication in the family of beta-blocker drugs that is commonly used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. It is also prescribed for angina or chest, arrythmias or irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, migraines and to prevent future heart attacks in patients with heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Atenolol and other drugs in this group of medications work by blocking the nerve messages that increase the force of the pumping action of the heart. This helps to reduce the force of the contraction as well as high blood pressure. Beta-blockers are potent drugs, and stopping them suddenly can worsen the cardiovascular condition it was prescribed for. Like all medications, atenolol can cause adverse and long-term side effects in addition to its beneficial effects.
All side effects of a medication should be reported to the prescribing doctor as well as all other medications and supplements being used. As well as its potentially life-saving effects, atenolol can cause some long-term side effects that affect the heart and vascular system in adverse ways. HealthyOntario.com notes that these included decreased blood circulation resulting in cold or numb hands and feet and tachycardia, or a fast heart rate.
Some side effects of atenolol and other beta-blocker medications affect the lungs and breathing. HealthLine.com lists these to include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and noisy breathing. Though not all patients on this medication will experience these side effects, they can occur.
Other side effects of atenolol may involve the systemic or general body systems. The Mayo Clinic explains that these can include blurred vision, slower mental reflexes, confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, night sweats, chills, anxiety, nervousness, easy brusing and leg pain. It is important to document and report all side effects to a physician.