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How long do beta blockers stay in your system?


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  • How long do beta blockers stay in your system?

    Hi everyone,

    Just wondering if anyone knows how long beta blockers stay in your system? My cardiologist has told me to stop taking my beta blocers 36 hours before my post-myectomy stress echo and I'm kind of looking forward to what it will feel like to be rid of the horribly depressing drugs. I can recall vividly the change in my mood immediately after starting beta blockers some 3 years ago.


    Age 38, dad of two young children, dx 1996, myectomy March 2005, a-fib issues, due for ICD soon.

  • #2

    Dear Paul,

    Please be aware that stopping beta-blockers without gradually reducing your dose over a week or two can cause a rebound effect and make you worse (and no, not all doctors know this or specify weaning when they tell patients to stop taking a beta-blocker).

    As for blood/plasma levels of beta-blockers, it varies a bit from drug to drug. You can google "atenolol peak blood level" for example to find results. But they are relatively short acting and three days is about right to have most/all of it out of your system.

    It is also important to know that every beta-blocker is a little different chemically. So just because one of them makes you depressed, a newer one or more specific beta-blocker, may not be so bad. Most people I know can tolerate nadolol or metropolol waaay better than propanolol, for example.


    • #3
      Thanks for the advice Sarah. Yes, I thought it was kind of strange for my cardiologist to say just stop taking beta blockers. But she must know what she is talking about as she is the head of the cardiology at a major and well-respected private hospital here in Melbourne Australia. She might not be concerned about me because I have had a myectomy...??? Then again, she is not what I would call a HOCm specialist in the sense of Barry Maron etc.

      As for the depression factor and beta blockers - atenolol had a big impact on me. Following surgery 7 weeks ago I was put on Sotalol to combat A-fib. But I haven't noticed any improvement.

      Take care,

      Age 38, dad of two young children, dx 1996, myectomy March 2005, a-fib issues, due for ICD soon.


      • #4
        drugs, cardioversion

        Dear Paul,

        I know some very, very, very well respected and prestigious doctors who have made mistakes, so I personally go by what I've read and experienced whenever it contradicts what a person said (regardless of the letters after their name).

        As for your current situation, usually for afib they put you on something like sotolol, get it up to a theraputic level and then do an electric cardioversion (aka defibrillation) --you know, like on ER when they yell "Clear!"? and that shocks your heart into a normal rhythm and then the medication is supposed to keep it normal.

        You should also be on coumadin for the afib to prevent a stroke.

        I have a TON of experience with afib so let me know if you have questions. please also use the board's search function for more info. boatloads of posts on meds, afib, etc.


        • #5
          Hi Sarah,

          Fortunately I have not had any a-fib for over 6 weeks so I don't think I need to be on Sotalol for that. But I think my surgeon wants me to continue taking half a pill each day. That means I'll be stuck with beta blockers. Perhaps I can go on Verapamil instead? I'll see what my doctor says.

          I know all about cardioversion because I had it 6 1/2 weeks ago!

          Take care,

          Age 38, dad of two young children, dx 1996, myectomy March 2005, a-fib issues, due for ICD soon.


          • #6
            I'm going to contradict here. I don't know the specifics of your situation, and frankly, it wouldn't make much of a difference because I'm not a doctor. I would think that your doctor took your overall condition into account before ordering you off beta blockers prior to your stress echo.

            I was scheduled for a stress echo yesterday and instructed not to take atenolol for 36 hours prior. There was no weaning process. The way it was explained to me, it was important to do this so that the doctor could see what happens with a heart that isn't medicated. In my entire course of treatment over the past 15 years, I have never had a stress echo off medication, so I realize the importance of this.

            Going off beta blockers suddenly is not a good thing, true, but it's not like you've up and decided to take yourself off of them (I did this years ago...long story and not a pretty one). The difference here is that you're under medical supervision. There are medical risks involved with this, but you have to recognize that sometimes risks are unavoidable in order to get a better understanding of your condition.

            -- Tim
            Life is a banquet...and I got botulism! -- Me

            If time flies when you're having fun, will I age faster at Disneyland? -- Joel Perry


            • #7
              My HCM docs has always had me to go off my Beta Blocker before a stress test.
              The Beta Blocker holds your heart rate down, so they get a better picture of whats going on if the Beta Blocker is not interfering.
              I take a fairly low doseage so it may not be as dangerous for me to stop.
              However he is a well known HCM doc so I have to trust him.
              Every great thing that has ever happened since the beginning of time has started as a single thought in someones mind.
              So if you are capable of thought then you are capable of great things
              Good luck and stay well.


              • #8
                your call

                Obviously, it is up to the individual to decide how to proceed in this kind of circumstance.

                If you trust your doctor and you haven't had any problems stopping the beta-blocker, then I'm not going to tell you to do anything differently.

                However, I just saying how _I_ proceed in situations like this, which is that I take whatever a doctor says with a grain of salt.

                (Why so cynical, Sarah? Both my mother and father are either disabled or dead due to malpractice and I have come close to both myself on several occasions due to medication errors from very "good" doctors and "good" hospitals. My personal experience with going cold-turkey on a beta-blocker was total misery.)

                There are a couple of doctors I trust, but on the whole, if the literature contradicts them, I at least have a conversation about why we are going against it--sometimes there are reasons. Sometimes not.

                My two cents.