Beta-blocker Atenolol has been in the headlines since July 2017. All six American manufacturers report a shortage of the generic drug used to treat high blood pressure, chest pain, and heart attacks.

If you are one of the millions of people affected by the shortage of this common life-saving drug, it is very bad news that the shortage is ongoing and not expected to ease soon.

There are several beta blockers with different formulations available. Find out if you can make the switch to Metoprolol Tartrate. Your doctor can explore your options with you.

Read ahead for more information.

What Are Beta Blockers?

Beta blockers reduce your blood pressure and slow the heart. They work by blocking the effects of adrenaline. They are a group of most-often prescribed drugs among overweight or older people. They also happen to be specifically banned for Olympic athletes.

Beta blockers cause your heartbeat to slow and to beat with less force, lowering blood pressure. Beta blockers also dilate the blood vessels, improving blood flow.

Some beta blockers target only the B1 receptors in your heart, while others affect both B1 and B2 receptors your heart, blood vessels and other organs. Beta blockers have been safely used since the 1960’s and are mostly inexpensive and generic.

Metoprolol Tartrate vs. Atenolol

Metoprolol Tartrate (brand name Lopressor) and Atenolol (brand name Tenormin) belong to a class of beta blockers that specifically target the B1 receptors of the heart. Both are often prescribed because they target only the heart and have a lower risk of side effects than other drugs which affect the whole body. Both are generally inexpensive.

Metoprolol Tartrate is commonly prescribed to patients for the symptoms of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat

Metoprolol tartrate is metabolized by the liver, which means that your body processes the drug into another substance to be excreted. There some drug interactions that can occur within the liver, so your doctor and pharmacist must also look at any other prescriptions you take.

It is taken with food twice a day and is considered a good option for patients with poor renal (kidney) function.


Atenolol is another generic beta blocker commonly prescribed to patients.

Similar to other beta blockers, it is used to treat:

  • Angina
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)

It works best when taken on an empty stomach once a day. The drug is processed out of the body by the kidneys. For this reason, it is recommended for patients with poor liver function or for patients already taking medicines processed in the liver.

Should I Make the Switch?

Only you and your doctor can weigh the benefits of switching medications. Your health indicators may favor one drug over the other. Different formulations and different drug interactions will make a difference.

Generic beta blockers are inexpensively available, so you should not be afraid to switch formulations or shop around for other alternatives, like mail-order and Canadian pharmacies. Your doctor can guide you.

Want to discover more ways to compare medications online? Keep reading our blog.