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Propranolol

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Propranolol is a beta-blocker. These are drugs that slow down your heartbeat. They're usually used to treat high blood pressure or angina ( chest pain). They may also help control essential tremor.

Brand names for propranolol include:

  • Angilol

  • Inderal

  • Half-Inderal LA

  • Inderal-LA.

There's been lots of research to show that propranolol is likely to help if you have essential tremor. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] We found 11 small, good-quality studies (called randomised controlled trials), all of which found that taking propranolol helped control shaking.

One study also found that taking propranolol for a year worked about as well as taking another blood pressure drug (called clonidine). [21] But there haven't been any other studies lasting longer than six weeks. So we don't know whether propranolol works for longer or whether the effect wears off.

There hasn't been enough research to know for certain how other beta-blockers compare with propranolol for treating essential tremor. Three small studies found that sotalol (brand names Beta-Cardone and Sotacor) and atenolol (Atenix, Tenormin) seemed to help. [15] [19] [22] One study found that pindolol (brand name Visken) made essential tremor worse. [18]

Beta-blockers can have side effects. In studies, about 1 in 10 people stopped taking propranolol because they felt tired or got a slow heart rate. [12] Other side effects are depression, dizziness, and sexual problems.

If you have asthma, heart problems, or diabetes, you need to tell your doctor. You may not be able to take these drugs.

Glossary

angina

Angina is the name that doctors use for a pain in your chest that you get when your heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen.

asthma

Asthma is a disease of the lungs. It makes you wheeze, cough and feel short of breath. Asthma attacks are caused by inflammation and narrowing of your airways, which makes it hard for air to pass in and out of your lungs.

depression

Depression is a mental illness in which your mood is low and you feel sad most of the time. It can range from a mild illness through to a severe one in which you lose interest in life and may be suicidal.

diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that causes too much sugar (glucose) to circulate in the blood. It happens when the body stops making a hormone called insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when insulin stops working (type 2 diabetes).

high blood pressure

Your blood pressure is considered to be high when it is above the accepted normal range. The usual limit for normal blood pressure is 140/90. If either the first (systolic) number is above 140 or the lower (diastolic) number is above 90, a person is considered to have high blood pressure. Doctors sometimes call high blood pressure 'hypertension'.

randomised controlled trials

Randomised controlled trials are medical studies designed to test whether a treatment works. Patients are split into groups. One group is given the treatment being tested (for example, an antidepressant drug) while another group (called the comparison or control group) is given an alternative treatment. This could be a different type of drug or a dummy treatment (a placebo). Researchers then compare the effects of the different treatments.

For more terms related to Essential tremor

Citations

For references related to Essential tremor click here.
Last Updated: July 12, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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