Pindolol is a type of drug called a beta blocker that works by blocking beta receptors in the heart and body. When you take pindolol, the heart muscles contract less often and less forcefully, leading to a slower heart rate and less blood pumped around your body. This can help to lower your blood pressure and treat hypertension and angina. Also, as it reduces the heart rate, it can help to treat tachyarrhythmias, when your heart beats to quickly.
Brand Names and Doses
Pindolol is the generic name of the drug – the active ingredient that works the effect of the medication in the body. There are two different brand names medication that contain pindolol and work in the same way: Barbloc and Visken.
Barbloc is available in two different doses: 5 mg or 15 mg. Visken, on the other hand, is only available is a single dose of 15 mg.
The standard dose of pindolol to treat hypertension is between 10 mg and 30 mg daily. For angina, a slightly lower dose is needed between 7.5 mg and 20 mg daily.
Most people begin taking a low dose (e.g. 5 mg) to allow the body to get used to taking the drug and reduce side effects that may occur if your blood pressure suddenly drops significantly lower. Once your body has adapted to taking the low dose, after a couple of weeks, the dose can be gradually increased until your blood pressure is just right.
Pindolol has a short half life of 3.5 hours, which means that half of the drug will be excreted from the body with 3.5 hours of taking the tablet. This isn’t a good thing for a medication that we want to have a constant effect on our blood pressure. If you take the tablet in the morning, it will work great initially, but by lunch time half of it will be gone and by dinner it will hardly have an effect on your body. To deal with this, you will need to take several doses of pindolol throughout the day to “top up” the concentration of the drug in your body.
For example, you might take a 5 mg tablet three times a day, with breakfast, lunch and dinner, to make up a total dose of 15 mg daily.
What type of drug is it?
Pindolol is a type of drug called a beta blocker, which is a group of medications that all work in a similar way. Other beta blocker drugs include:
Even though they are all in the same class, there are a few subtle differences between them.
What makes pindolol stand out?
Pindolol is a broad-acting beta blocker that inhibits beta receptors all around the body, both in the heart and the lungs. This means that it willl effect the way that the muscles contract in both of these areas. In the lungs, beta blockers can lead to tightening of the airways, which can increase difficulty breathing for people with respiratory diseases such as asthma or COPD.
Pindolol is excreted from your body through your kidneys in your urine and by being chemically changed into other substances in your liver. If you have poor liver or kidney function, you may need to take a lower dose of the medication that usual because your body will take longer to clear it from your body.
Pindolol is also excreted from your body very quickly – more than half of it is gone within 3.5 hours of taking a dose. For this reason, you will need to take doses more frequently than other beta blocker drugs (e.g. 2-3 times a day, rather than 1 tablet a day).
How does Pindolol work?
Beta-adrenergic receptors are found in the heart and lungs in the body and detect a message and tell the muscles in the area to contract together. In the heart, this means that the heart beats to push the blood out and into your blood vessels.
Pindolol attaches to these beta receptors in the heart and the lungs, making it more difficult for the messages to find their way to the receptor and tell the muscles to contract.
This doesn’t stop the heart from functioning altogether, but it does slow the heart down. The muscles contract less often, leading to a slower heart rate and less forceful beats. As a result, the blood pressure decreases.
What is it used for?
Pindolol can be used for several different health conditions relating to the cardiovascular system because of the way that it
works. It can help in the management of:
- Hypertension – lowers blood pressure by decreasing the rate and force of the heart
- Angina prevention – decreases blood pressure and stress on the heart, reducing risk of angina symptoms
- Tacharrhythmias – lowers the heart rate to mange the racing heart of tachyarrhythmia
Pindolol Side Effects
The most common side effects of pindolol are due to the drug working too well in the body, so that you end up with low blood pressure. Some signs of this are:
- Low heart rate (bradycardia)
If this happens to you, it is best to talk to your doctor. Simply lowering the dose can often help to get your blood pressure back into the normal range so that you feel better. Most people start taking with a low dose of pindolol and gradually increase it to help stop this from happening.
Sometimes you may also feel nauseous, have diarrhoea or a cold sensation in your extremities like your hands and feet when you take pindolol. For a complete list of the side effects, you should see the medicine information leaflet.
Pindolol should be taken long-term to help manage blood pressure, angina or arrythmias. If you suddenly stop taking it, the muscles in the heart will suddenly be able to contract with full force again and you can get rebound hypertension worse than in the beginning. Instead, slowly reduce the dose and stop taking it to give your body time to adjust to working without the medication.
If you have a low heart rate of less than 45-50 beats/minute, pindolol is not likely to be the best choice for you because it can cause the heart rate to go even slower, which can be dangerous.
If you have diabetes, pindolol can hide the signs of side effects life hypoglycemia that is a side effect of some diabetic medications, involving a low concentration of sugar in your blood. Signs of a fast heart rate and tremor usually help to recognise this, but pindolol can hide these effects, so that you not may notice until the damage is already done.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Pindolol is not recommended to be used in pregnancy because it may lead to a low heart rate in your baby. The safety of pindolol for women who are breastfeed is not well known, so other medications may be a safer option.