"What are beta blockers and how do they work?
Beta blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are a class of drugs that works by blocking the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and epinephrine from binding to receptors. "...
Hypertension and Angina
Cardiac Failure: Sympathetic stimulation is a vital component supporting circulatory function in congestive heart failure, and beta blockade carries the potential hazard of further depressing myocardial contractility and precipitating more severe failure. In hypertensive and angina patients who have congestive heart failure controlled by digitalis and diuretics, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be administered cautiously.
In Patients Without a History of Cardiac Failure: Continued depression of the myocardium with beta-blocking agents over a period of time can, in some cases, lead to cardiac failure. At the first sign or symptom of impending cardiac failure, patients should be fully digitalized and/or given a diuretic. The response should be observed closely. If cardiac failure continues, despite adequate digitalization and diuretic therapy, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be withdrawn.
Ischemic Heart Disease: Following abrupt cessation of therapy with certain beta-blocking agents, exacerbations of angina pectoris and, in some cases, myocardial infarction have occurred. When discontinuing chronically administered Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) , particularly in patients with ischemic heart disease, the dosage should be gradually reduced over a period of 1-2 weeks and the patient should be carefully monitored. If angina markedly worsens or acute coronary insufficiency develops, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) administration should be reinstated promptly, at least temporarily, and other measures appropriate for the management of unstable angina should be taken. Patients should be warned against interruption or discontinuation of therapy without the physician's advice. Because coronary artery disease is common and may be unrecognized, it may be prudent not to discontinue Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) therapy abruptly even in patients treated only for hypertension.
Bronchospastic Diseases: PATIENTS WITH BRONCHOSPASTIC DISEASES SHOULD, IN GENERAL, NOT RECEIVE BETA BLOCKERS, including Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) . Because of its relative beta1 selectivity, however, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) may be used with caution in patients with bronchospastic disease who do not respond to, or cannot tolerate, other antihypertensive treatment. Since beta1 selectivity is not absolute, a beta2-stimulating agent should be administered concomitantly, and the lowest possible dose of Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be used. In these circumstances it would be prudent initially to administer Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) in smaller doses three times daily, instead of larger doses two times daily, to avoid the higher plasma levels associated with the longer dosing interval (See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Chronically administered beta-blocking therapy should not be routinely withdrawn prior to major surgery; however, the impaired ability of the heart to respond to reflex adrenergic stimuli may augment the risks of general anesthesia and surgical procedures.
Diabetes and Hypoglycemia: Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be used with caution in diabetic patients if a beta-blocking agent is required. Beta blockers may mask tachycardia occurring with hypoglycemia, but other manifestations such as dizziness and sweating may not be significantly affected.
Pheochromocytoma: If Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) is used in the setting of pheochromocytoma, it should be given in combination with an alpha blocker, and only after the alpha blocker has been initiated. Administration of beta blockers alone in the setting of pheochromocytoma has been associated with a paradoxical increase in blood pressure due to the attenuation of beta-mediated vasodilatation in skeletal muscle.
Thyrotoxicosis: Beta-adrenergic blockade may mask certain clinical signs (e.g., tachycardia) of hyperthyroidism. Patients suspected of developing thyrotoxicosis should be managed carefully to avoid abrupt withdrawal of beta blockade, which might precipitate a thyroid storm.
Cardiac Failure: Sympathetic stimulation is a vital component supporting circulatory function, and beta blockade carries the potential hazard of depressing myocardial contractility and precipitating or exacerbating minimal cardiac failure.
During treatment with Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) , the hemodynamic status of the patient should be carefully monitored. If heart failure occurs or persists despite appropriate treatment, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be discontinued.
Bradycardia: Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) produces a decrease in sinus heart rate in most patients; this decrease is greatest among patients with high initial heart rates and least among patients with low initial heart rates. Acute myocardial infarction (particularly inferior infarction) may in itself produce significant lowering of the sinus rate. If the sinus rate decreases to <40 beats/min, particularly if associated with evidence of lowered cardiac output, atropine (0.25-0.5 mg) should be administered intravenously. If treatment with atropine is not successful, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be discontinued, and cautious administration of isoproterenol or installation of a cardiac pacemaker should be considered.
AVBlock: Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) slows AV conduction and may produce significant first- (P-R interval ≥0.26 sec), second-, or third-degree heart block. Acute myocardial infarction also produces heart block.
If heart block occurs, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be discontinued and atropine (0.25-0.5 mg) should be administered intravenously. If treatment with atropine is not successful, cautious administration of isoproterenol or installation of a cardiac pacemaker should be considered.
Hypotension: If hypotension (systolic blood pressure ≤90 mmHg) occurs, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be discontinued, and the hemodynamic status of the patient and the extent of myocardial damage carefully assessed. Invasive monitoring of central venous, pulmonary capillary wedge, and arterial pressures may be required. Appropriate therapy with fluids, positive inotropic agents, balloon counterpulsation, or other treatment modalities should be instituted. If hypotension is associated with sinus bradycardia or AV block, treatment should be directed at reversing these (see above).
Bronchospastic Diseases: PATIENTS WITH BRONCHOSPASTIC DISEASES SHOULD, IN GENERAL, NOT RECEIVE BETA BLOCKERS, including Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) . Because of its relative beta1 selectivity, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) may be used with extreme caution in patients with bronchospastic disease. Because it is unknown to what extent beta2-stimulating agents may exacerbate myocardial ischemia and the extent of infarction, these agents should not be used prophylactically. If bronchospasm not related to congestive heart failure occurs, Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be discontinued. A theophylline derivative or a beta2 agonist may be administered cautiously, depending on the clinical condition of the patient. Both theophylline derivatives and beta2 agonists may produce serious cardiac arrhythmias.
Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) should be used with caution in patients with impaired hepatic function.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Long-term studies in animals have been conducted to evaluate carcinogenic potential. In a 2-year study in rats at three oral dosage levels of up to 800 mg/kg per day, there was no increase in the development of spontaneously occurring benign or malignant neoplasms of any type. The only histologic changes that appeared to be drug related were an increased incidence of generally mild focal accumulation of foamy macrophages in pulmonary alveoli and a slight increase in biliary hyperplasia. In a 21-month study in Swiss albino mice at three oral dosage levels of up to 750 mg/kg per day, benign lung tumors (small adenomas) occurred more frequently in female mice receiving the highest dose than in untreated control animals. There was no increase in malignant or total (benign plus malignant) lung tumors, or in the overall incidence of tumors or malignant tumors. This 21-month study was repeated in CD-1 mice, and no statistically or biologically significant differences were observed between treated and control mice of either sex for any type of tumor.
All mutagenicity tests performed (a dominant lethal study in mice, chromosome studies in somatic cells, a Salmonella/mammalian-microsome mutagenicity test, and a nucleus anomaly test in somatic interphase nuclei) were negative.
No evidence of impaired fertility due to Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) was observed in a study performed in rats at doses up to 55.5 times the maximum daily human dose of 450 mg.
Pregnancy Category C
Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) has been shown to increase postimplantation loss and decrease neonatal survival in rats at doses up to 55.5 times the maximum daily human dose of 450 mg. Distribution studies in mice confirm exposure of the fetus when Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) is administered to the pregnant animal. These studies have revealed no evidence of impaired fertility or teratogenicity. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) is excreted in breast milk in a very small quantity. An infant consuming 1 liter of breast milk daily would receive a dose of less than 1 mg of the drug. Caution should be exercised when Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) is administered to a nursing woman.
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Clinical trials of Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) in hypertension did not include sufficient numbers of elderly patients to determine whether patients over 65 years of age differ from younger subjects in their response to Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) . Other reported clinical experience in elderly hypertensive patients has not identified any difference in response from younger patients.
In worldwide clinical trials of Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) in myocardial infarction, where approximately 478 patients were over 65 years of age (0 over 75 years of age), no age-related differences in safety and effectiveness were found. Other reported clinical experience in myocardial infarction has not identified differences in response between the elderly and younger patients. However, greater sensitivity of some elderly individuals taking Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate) cannot be categorically ruled out. Therefore, in general, it is recommended that dosing proceed with caution in this population.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/9/2011
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