Sympathetic stimulation is necessary in 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 patients who have congestive heart failure controlled by digitalis and/or diuretics, atenolol and chlorthalidone should be administered cautiously. Both digitalis and atenolol slow AV conduction.
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 treated appropriately according to currently recommended guidelines, and the response observed closely. If cardiac failure continues despite adequate treatment, atenolol and chlorthalidone should be withdrawn. (See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION .)
Renal and Hepatic Disease and Electrolyte Disturbances
Since atenolol is excreted via the kidneys, atenolol and chlorthalidone should be used with caution in patients with impaired renal function.
In patients with renal disease, thiazides may precipitate azotemia. Since cumulative effects may develop in the presence of impaired renal function, if progressive renal impairment becomes evident, atenolol and chlorthalidone should be discontinued.
In patients with impaired hepatic function or progressive liver disease, minor alterations in fluid and electrolyte balance may precipitate hepatic coma. Atenolol and chlorthalidone should be used with caution in these patients.
Ischemic Heart Disease
Following abrupt cessation of therapy with certain beta-blocking agents in patients with coronary artery disease, exacerbations of angina pectoris and, in some cases, myocardial infarction have been reported. Therefore, such patients should be cautioned against interruption of therapy without the physician’s advice. Even in the absence of overt angina pectoris, when discontinuation of atenolol and chlorthalidone is planned, the patient should be carefully observed and should be advised to limit physical activity to a minimum. Atenolol and chlorthalidone should be reinstated if withdrawal symptoms occur. Because coronary artery disease is common and may be unrecognized, it may be prudent not to discontinue atenolol and chlorthalidone therapy abruptly even in patients treated only for hypertension.
Concomitant Use of Calcium Channel Blockers
Bradycardia and heart block can occur and the left ventricular end diastolic pressure can rise when beta-blockers are administered with verapamil or diltiazem. Patients with pre-existing conduction abnormalities or left ventricular dysfunction are particularly susceptible. (See PRECAUTIONS .)
PATIENTS WITH BRONCHOSPASTIC DISEASE SHOULD, IN GENERAL, NOT RECEIVE BETA BLOCKERS. Because of its relative beta 1 -selectivity, however, atenolol and chlorthalidone may be used with caution in patients with bronchospastic disease who do not respond to or cannot tolerate, other antihypertensive treatment. Since beta 1 -selectivity is not absolute, the lowest possible dose of atenolol and chlorthalidone should be used and a beta 2 -stimulating agent (bronchodilator) should be made available. If dosage must be increased, dividing the dose should be considered in order to achieve lower peak blood levels.
Anesthesia and Major Surgery
It is not advisable to withdraw beta-adrenoreceptor blocking drugs prior to surgery in the majority of patients. However, care should be taken when using anesthetic agents such as those which may depress the myocardium. Vagal dominance, if it occurs, may be corrected with atropine (1-2 mg IV).
Beta blockers are competitive inhibitors of beta-receptor agonists and their effects on the heart can be reversed by administration of such agents; e.g., dobutamine or isoproterenol with caution (see section on OVERDOSAGE).
Metabolic and Endocrine Effects
Atenolol and chlorthalidone may be used with caution in diabetic patients. Beta blockers may mask tachycardia occurring with hypoglycemia, but other manifestations such as dizziness and sweating may not be significantly affected. At recommended doses atenolol does not potentiate insulin-induced hypoglycemia and, unlike nonselective beta blockers, does not delay recovery of blood glucose to normal levels.
Insulin requirements in diabetic patients may be increased, decreased or unchanged; latent diabetes mellitus may become manifest during chlorthalidone administration.
Beta-adrenergic blockade may mask certain clinical signs (e.g., tachycardia) of hyperthyroidism. Abrupt withdrawal of beta blockade might precipitate a thyroid storm; therefore, patients suspected of developing thyrotoxicosis from whom atenolol and chlorthalidone therapy is to be withdrawn should be monitored closely.
Because calcium excretion is decreased by thiazides, atenolol and chlorthalidone should be discontinued before carrying out tests for parathyroid function. Pathologic changes in the parathyroid glands, with hypercalcemia and hypophosphatemia, have been observed in a few patients on prolonged thiazide therapy; however, the common complications of hyperparathyroidism such as renal lithiasis, bone resorption, and peptic ulceration have not been seen.
Hyperuricemia may occur, or acute gout may be precipitated in certain patients receiving thiazide therapy.
Atenolol and chlorthalidone tablets should not be given to patients with untreated pheochromocytoma.
Pregnancy and Fetal Injury
Atenolol can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Atenolol crosses the placental barrier and appears in cord blood. Administration of atenolol, starting in the second trimester of pregnancy, has been associated with the birth of infants that are small for gestational age. No studies have been performed on the use of atenolol in the first trimester and the possibility of fetal injury cannot be excluded. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus.
Neonates born to mothers who are receiving atenolol at parturition or breast-feeding may be at risk for hypoglycemia and bradycardia. Caution should be exercised when atenolol and chlorthalidone is administered during pregnancy or to a woman who is breast-feeding. (See PRECAUTIONS, Nursing Mothers .)
Atenolol and chlorthalidone was studied for teratogenic potential in the rat and rabbit. Doses of atenolol/chlorthalidone of 8/2, 80/20 and 240/60 mg/kg/day were administered orally to pregnant rats with no evidence of embryofetotoxicity observed. Two studies were conducted in rabbits. In the first study, pregnant rabbits were dosed with 8/2, 80/20 and 160/40 mg/kg/day of atenolol/chlorthalidone. No teratogenic effects were noted, but embryonic resorptions were observed at all dose levels (ranging from approximately 5 times to 100 times the maximum recommended human dose*). In the second rabbit study, doses of atenolol/chlorthalidone were 4/1, 8/2 and 20/5 mg/kg/day. No teratogenic or embryotoxic effects were demonstrated.
Atenolol - Atenolol has been shown to produce a dose-related increase in embryo/fetal resorptions in rats at doses equal to or greater than 50 mg/kg/day or 25 or more times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose.* Although similar effects were not seen in rabbits, the compound was not evaluated in rabbits at doses above 25 mg/kg/day or 12.5 times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose.*
*Based on the maximum dose of 100 mg/day in a 50 kg patient.
Chlorthalidone - Thiazides cross the placental barrier and appear in cord blood. The use of chlorthalidone and related drugs in pregnant women requires that the anticipated benefits of the drug be weighed against possible hazards to the fetus. These hazards include fetal or neonatal jaundice, thrombocytopenia and possibly other adverse reactions which have occurred in the adult.
Atenolol and chlorthalidone tablets may aggravate peripheral arterial circulatory disorders.
Electrolyte and Fluid Balance Status
Periodic determination of serum electrolytes to detect possible electrolyte imbalance should be performed at appropriate intervals.
Patients should be observed for clinical signs of fluid or electrolyte imbalance; i.e., hyponatremia, hypochloremic alkalosis, and hypokalemia. Serum and urine electrolyte determinations are particularly important when the patient is vomiting excessively or receiving parenteral fluids. Warning signs or symptoms of fluid and electrolyte imbalance include dryness of the mouth, thirst, weakness, lethargy, drowsiness, restlessness, muscle pains or cramps, muscular fatigue, hypotension, oliguria, tachycardia, and gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea and vomiting.
Measurement of potassium levels is appropriate especially in elderly patients, those receiving digitalis preparations for cardiac failure, patients whose dietary intake of potassium is abnormally low, or those suffering from gastrointestinal complaints.
Hypokalemia may develop especially with brisk diuresis, when severe cirrhosis is present, or during concomitant use of corticosteroids or ACTH.
Interference with adequate oral electrolyte intake will also contribute to hypokalemia. Hypokalemia can sensitize or exaggerate the response of the heart to the toxic effects of digitalis (e.g., increased ventricular irritability). Hypokalemia may be avoided or treated by use of potassium supplements or foods with a high potassium content.
Any chloride deficit during thiazide therapy is generally mild and usually does not require specific treatment except under extraordinary circumstances (as in liver disease or renal disease). Dilutional hyponatremia may occur in edematous patients in hot weather; appropriate therapy is water restriction rather than administration of salt except in rare instances when the hyponatremia is life-threatening. In actual salt depletion, appropriate replacement is the therapy of choice.
Atenolol and chlorthalidone may potentiate the action of other antihypertensive agents used concomitantly. Patients treated with atenolol and chlorthalidone plus a catecholamine depletor (e.g., reserpine) should be closely observed for evidence of hypotension and/or marked bradycardia which may produce vertigo, syncope, or postural hypotension.
Calcium channel blockers may also have an additive effect when given with atenolol and chlorthalidone. (See WARNINGS .)
Thiazides may decrease arterial responsiveness to norepinephrine. This diminution is not sufficient to preclude the therapeutic effectiveness of norepinephrine. Thiazides may increase the responsiveness to tubocurarine.
Concomitant use of prostaglandin synthase inhibiting drugs, e.g., indomethacin, may decrease the hypotensive effects of beta blockers.
Lithium generally should not be given with diuretics because they reduce its renal clearance and add a high risk of lithium toxicity. Read prescribing information for lithium preparations before use of such preparations with atenolol and chlorthalidone.
Beta blockers may exacerbate the rebound hypertension which can follow the withdrawal of clonidine. If the two drugs are coadministered, the beta blocker should be withdrawn several days before the gradual withdrawal of clonidine. If replacing clonidine by beta-blocker therapy, the introduction of beta blockers should be delayed for several days after clonidine administration has stopped.
While taking beta blockers, patients with a history of anaphylactic reaction to a variety of allergens may have a more severe reaction on repeated challenge, either accidental, diagnostic or therapeutic. Such patients may be unresponsive to the usual doses of epinephrine used to treat the allergic reaction.
In patients receiving thiazides, sensitivity reactions may occur with or without a history of allergy or bronchial asthma. The possible exacerbation or activation of systemic lupus erythematosus has been reported. The antihypertensive effects of thiazides may be enhanced in the postsympathectomy patient.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Two long-term (maximum dosing duration of 18 or 24 months) rat studies and one long-term (maximum dosing duration of 18 months) mouse study, each employing dose levels as high as 300 mg/kg/day or 150 times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose*, did not indicate a carcinogenic potential of atenolol. A third (24 month) rat study, employing doses of 500 and 1,500 mg/kg/day (250 and 750 times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose*) resulted in increased incidences of benign adrenal medullary tumors in males and females, mammary fibroadenomas in females, and anterior pituitary adenomas and thyroid parafollicular cell carcinomas in males. No evidence of a mutagenic potential of atenolol was uncovered in the dominant lethal test (mouse), in vivo cytogenetics test (Chinese hamster) or Ames test (S typhimurium).
Fertility of male or female rats (evaluated at dose levels as high as 200 mg/kg/day or 100 times the maximum recommended human dose*) was unaffected by atenolol administration.
Six month oral administration studies were conducted in rats and dogs using atenolol and chlorthalidone doses up to 12.5 mg/kg/day (atenolol/chlorthalidone 10/2.5 mg/kg/day–approximately 5 times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose*). There were no functional or morphological abnormalities resulting from dosing either compound alone or together other than minor changes in heart rate, blood pressure and urine chemistry which were attributed to the known pharmacologic properties of atenolol and/or chlorthalidone.
Chronic studies of atenolol performed in animals have revealed the occurrence of vacuolation of epithelial cells of Brunner’s glands in the duodenum of both male and female dogs at all tested dose levels (starting at 15 mg/kg/day or 7.5 times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose*) and increased incidence of atrial degeneration of hearts of male rats at 300 but not 150 mg atenolol/kg/day (150 and 75 times the maximum recommended human antihypertensive dose,* respectively).
*Based on the maximum dose of 100 mg/day in a 50 kg patient.
Use in Pregnancy
Pregnancy Category D: See WARNINGS-Pregnancy and Fetal Injury.
Atenolol is excreted in human breast milk at a ratio of 1.5 to 6.8 when compared to the concentration in plasma. Caution should be exercised when atenolol is administered to a nursing woman. Clinically significant bradycardia has been reported in breast-fed infants. Premature infants, or infants with impaired renal function, may be more likely to develop adverse effects.
Neonates born to mothers who are receiving atenolol at parturition or breast-feeding may be at risk for hypoglycemia and bradycardia. Caution should be exercised when atenolol and chlorthalidone is administered during pregnancy or to a woman who is breast-feeding. (See WARNINGS, Pregnancy and Fetal Injury .)
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Clinical studies of atenolol and chlorthalidone did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and concomitant disease or other drug therapy.