When lifestyle changes aren't enough to control high blood pressure, medications can make the difference. However, as effective as they are, common hypertension drugs, like metoprolol, can have side effects. Knowing which supplements and foods to avoid is key.
Nearly half of U.S. adults have some form of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association's latest statistical update, published in March 2019 in Circulation. The medication metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol, Toprol XL) is one of the drugs commonly prescribed to treat heart-related concerns, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, including:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Heart attack.
- Heart failure.
Known as a beta-adrenergic blocking agent, or beta blocker for short, metoprolol relaxes blood vessels and reduces your heart rate by interfering with processes involving epinephrine (also called adrenaline), according to the Mayo Clinic. By blocking some of epinephrine's effects, which include signaling the heart to pump faster, metoprolol helps the heart work more effectively for those with unique needs, explains Harvard Health Publishing.
Like most medications, metoprolol has risks. These include the possibility of allergic reaction or negative interaction with other medications as well as the way certain health conditions may affect the medication. Talk with your doctor about whether and how these risks might apply to you.
Risk: Allergic Reaction
You should avoid metoprolol if you're allergic to any of its ingredients, notes the National Library of Medicine. Your doctor or pharmacist can evaluate this concern for you.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, medication allergies may not develop the first time you take a drug. Allergy symptoms, which generally appear within hours, but may appear later, include:
If you experience serious issues after taking metoprolol, such as difficulty breathing, call 911.
Risk: Medication Interactions
When you're prescribed metoprolol or any new medication, review with your doctor or pharmacist all existing prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements that you take. This will help prevent harmful interactions.
According to Michigan Medicine, metoprolol can interact negatively with:
- Other heart/blood pressure medicines.
- Epinephrine (prescribed for severe allergies).
- Antidepressants, especially MAO inhibitors.
medicines (used to treat severe headaches/migraines, according to the National Institute of Neurology Disorders & Stroke).
In addition, the U.S. National Library of Medicine suggests reviewing with your doctor your use of certain drugs in case the dosage needs to be adjusted when you start metoprolol. They include:
Remember, these are not exhaustive lists, and medications may change over time. Talk with your doctor about any new symptoms, and call 911 if you think you're experiencing an allergy or serious issue.
Some heart medications may interact negatively with grapefruit or foods high in potassium or protein. "Though it's still a good idea to monitor your reaction to any treatment or diet change, it's not believed that metoprolol interacts with these specific foods in a way that puts you at increased risk," notes Catherine Cooke, PharmD, a research associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore.
"What's important is to [consistently] take metoprolol the same way," Dr. Cooke adds. "If you take it on an empty stomach, continue to take it that way. If you take metoprolol with meals or directly after eating, then continue to take it that way."
As with most medications, avoid taking metoprolol with alcohol, advises the National Library of Medicine.
Risk: Other Characteristics to Consider
Medications also may work differently because of your own unique characteristics, such as your age and general health. The National Library of Medicine suggests talking to your doctor if you have certain conditions that could affect metoprolol or make it inappropriate for you. They include:
- Other heart problems, such as a slow heart rate, serious circulation issue or heart failure.
- Asthma or other lung disease.
- Liver disease.
- Pheochromocytoma (a type of tumor).
When to Seek Help
According to the National Library of Medicine, common metoprolol side effects include:
- Stomach issues like nausea, heartburn, constipation or gas.
- Dry mouth.
- Cold hands or feet.
- Runny nose.
- Weight gain.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor as soon as you can. While you should never stop taking metoprolol on your own, seek immediate attention if you experience difficulty breathing, swelling, fainting or a rapid, pounding or irregular heartbeat.
Is This an Emergency?
- Circulation: “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2019 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association”
- U.S. National Medical Library: “Metoprolol”
- Mayo Clinic: “Beta Blockers”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Beta Blockers: Cardiac Jacks of All Trades”
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: “Drug Allergies”
- Michigan Medicine: “Metoprolol (Oral/Injection)”
- National Institute of Neurology Disorders and Stroke. “Headache: Hope Through Research”
- Catherine Cooke, PharmD, BCPS, PAHM, research associate professor, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore