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propranolol (proe-pran-oh-lole)

Apo-Propranolol, Betachron E-R, Inderal, Inderal LA, InnoPran XL, Novopranol, PMS Propranolol


Therapeutic: antianginals, antiarrhythmics (class II), antihypertensives, vascular headache suppressants

Pharmacologic: beta blockers


Management of hypertension, angina, arrhythmias, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, thyrotoxicosis, essential tremors, pheochromocytoma. Also used in the prevention and management of MI and the prevention of vascular headaches. Unlabeled Use: Also used to manage alcohol withdrawal, aggressive behavior, antipsychosis-associated akathisia, situational anxiety, and esophageal varices. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)(Ongoing clinical trials at National Institute for Mental Health [NIMH].).


Blocks stimulation of beta1(myocardial) and beta2 (pulmonary, vascular, and uterine)–adrenergic receptor sites. Therapeutic Effects: Decreased heart rate and blood pressure. Suppression of arrhythmias. Prevention of MI.

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

CNS: fatigue, weakness, anxiety, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, memory loss, mental depression, mental status changes, nervousness, nightmares. EENT: blurred vision, dry eyes, nasal stuffiness. Resp: bronchospasm, wheezing. CV: ARRHYTHMIAS, BRADYCARDIA, CHF, PULMONARY EDEMA, orthostatic hypotension, peripheral vasoconstriction. GI: constipation, diarrhea, nausea. GU: erectile dysfunction, decreased libido. Derm: itching, rashes. Endo: hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia (increased in children). MS: arthralgia, back pain, muscle cramps. Neuro: paresthesia. Misc: drug-induced lupus syndrome.


Examination and Evaluation

  • Assess heart rate, ECG, and heart sounds, especially during exercise (See Appendices G, H). Report immediately an unusually slow heart rate (bradycardia) or signs of other arrhythmias, including palpitations, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, fainting, and fatigue/weakness.

  • Assess routinely for signs of CHF and pulmonary edema, including dyspnea, rales/crackles, weight gain, peripheral edema, and jugular venous distention. Report these signs to the physician immediately.

  • Assess blood pressure (BP) periodically and compare to normal values (See Appendix F) to help document antihypertensive effects.

  • Assess BP when patient assumes a more upright position (lying to standing, sitting to standing, lying to sitting). Document orthostatic hypotension and contact physician when systolic BP falls >20 mm Hg, or diastolic BP falls >10 mm Hg.

  • Assess exercise tolerance and episodes of angina pectoris. Document improvements in these variables, but also report any decline in exercise tolerance or increased frequency/severity of anginal attacks.

  • Monitor signs of peripheral vasoconstriction, such as extreme coldness in the hands and feet, cyanosis, and muscle cramping. Notify physician of severe or prolonged signs of vasoconstriction.

  • Assess symptoms of bronchospasm (wheezing, coughing, tightness in chest). Perform pulmonary function tests to quantify suspected changes in ventilation and respiration (See Appendices I, J, K). Repeated or prolonged bronchoconstriction may require a change in dose or medication (e.g., switch to a more cardioselective beta blocker).

  • Assess signs of paresthesia (numbness, tingling) or muscle twitching. Perform objective tests, including electroneuromyography and sensory testing to document any drug-related neuropathic changes.

  • Assess any back pain, joint pain, or muscle cramping to ...

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