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How and when to take atenolol

Always follow your doctor's advice, and the instructions that come with your medicine.


How much atenolol you take depends on why you need it.

The usual dose for adults is:

  • high blood pressure – 25mg to 50mg, taken once a day
  • angina (chest pain) – 100mg, taken once a day, or split into two 50mg doses
  • irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) – 50mg to 100mg, taken once a day
  • migraine – 25mg to 100mg, taken twice a day

For children taking atenolol, your child's doctor will work out the right dose by using their weight and age.

How to take it

You'll usually take atenolol once or twice a day.

When you start taking atenolol, your doctor may advise you to take your first dose before bedtime because it can make you feel dizzy. After the first dose, if you do not feel dizzy, you can take your medicine in the morning.

If you're taking atenolol twice a day, try to have 1 dose in the morning and 1 dose in the evening. It's a good idea to leave 10 to 12 hours between doses if you can.

Atenolol does not usually upset your stomach, so you can take it with or without food but it's best to do the same each day.

Swallow the tablets whole with a drink of water. If you find them difficult to swallow, some brands have a score line to help you break the tablet in half. Check the information leaflet for your brand to see if you can do this.

If you're taking atenolol as a liquid, it will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have one, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount of medicine.

How long to take it for

This depends on why you're taking atenolol.

For heart conditions or high blood pressure, treatment is usually long term and may be for the rest of your life.

For migraines, treatment can last for several months or years, depending on how bad your symptoms are.

Talk to your doctor if you want to stop taking atenolol. Do not stop taking it suddenly, especially if you have heart disease. This can make your condition worse.

If you're bothered by side effects, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medicine instead.

If you forget to take it

If you forget to take a dose of atenolol, take it as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.

Never take 2 doses at the same time. Do not take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.

If you often forget doses, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

If you take too much

The amount of atenolol that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.

If you take more than the prescribed dose, your heart rate may slow down and you may find it difficult to breathe. It can also make you feel dizzy.

Urgent advice: Contact 111 for advice now if:

  • you take more than your prescribed dose of atenolol

Go to or call 111

If you need advice for a child under the age of 5 years, call 111.

If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself. Get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.

Take the atenolol packet or leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine, with you

Page last reviewed: 5 April 2022
Next review due: 5 April 2025