How Does Atenolol Work?

Atenolol (Tenormin®) is a prescription medication licensed to treat high blood pressure and to relieve chest pain caused by angina. It can also be taken following a heart attack to help improve survival. Some people taking atenolol may wonder, "How does it work?"
 
Atenolol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic blocking agents (or beta blockers for short). As the name implies, beta blockers work by blocking beta receptors in the body. Beta receptors are located in a number of places within the body, including the heart and blood vessels. Adrenaline attaches to these receptors and causes certain reactions in the body, such as an increase in:
 
Atenolol helps to block a specific type of beta receptor called beta-1 receptors. By blocking beta-1 receptors, the medication causes the reverse effect of adrenaline. It decreases heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and the workload of the heart. This means that the heart requires less blood and oxygen to work properly.
 
(Click What Is Atenolol Used For? for more information on how the drug works for high blood pressure and angina, to learn about the effects of atenolol following a heart attack, and to find out if this medication is used for off-label purposes.)
 
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