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Atenolol & Potassium

By Chris Dinesen Rogers

Atenolol and potassium share a common benefit: Each can have a positive effect on blood pressure. Atenolol is a prescription medication for treating high blood pressure. Potassium also helps control blood pressure, so don't take potassium along with atenolol because of the potential for negative drug interactions. Talk to your doctor before you take potassium or any other supplement.

What Is Atenolol?

Atenolol is a type of medication for individuals with high blood pressure or angina. It works by blocking the effects of adrenaline on your heart and circulatory system. This action keeps your blood pressure stable, avoiding spikes in your reading. While not the first medication typically prescribed, it can effectively help you control your condition and prevent the complications of this silent killer. The decrease in blood pressure can lead to a cold sensation in your hands and feet, and some individuals may experience fatigue or insomnia from taking atenolol.

Potassium and Blood Pressure

Potassium, like atenolol, can have positive effects on your blood pressure, but though by a different means. Potassium can help your blood vessels dilate, which improves blood flow and reduces pressure. It also can help lower your blood pressure by stimulating sodium excretion. With less sodium, your body won't retain as much water, lowering blood volume and thus, blood pressure.

Potassium Levels

Medical research shows that taking atenolol may affect potassium levels in your body. A study by Hässle Research Laboratories in Sweden, published in the January 1983 issue of “Acta Medica Scandinavica,” found that beta blockers caused a moderate increase in potassium levels. An increase in uptake by the cells was believed to be the mechanism behind the change. A study by Centre Hospitalier de Dourdan in France, published in the August 2009 issue of “La Revue de Medecine Interne,” recounted a case of hyperkaliemia, or abnormally elevated potassium, in a woman taking atenolol.


Hyperkaliemia presents several health risks that support the recommendation that you not take potassium and atenolol together. This condition can cause muscle weakness, temporary paralysis and cardiac arrhythmia or abnormal heartbeat. Normally, your body strictly regulates potassium in your bloodstream, but atenolol may interfere with normal regulatory mechanisms. The website also warns of the possibility of serious bronchospasms when taking atenolol and potassium iodide together.You should consult your doctor before taking any supplement while taking atenolol.

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