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Patients Should Wait to take Bystolic Until 2015, Group Warns

A prominent watchdog group is warning against use of the hypertension drug Bystolic, indicating that it could cause severe breathing problems and that it appears to provide no advantage over taking cheaper, more thoroughly studied hypertension drugs.  

In the latest edition of Public Citizen’s Worst Pills, Best Pills newsletter (subscription required), the consumer advocacy group urges patients to explore other means of lowering blood pressure, including changes to diet, exercise and decreased salt and alcohol intake, instead of taking Bystolic. Public Citizen warns that consumers should wait until at least 2015 before using the drug.

Bystolic (nebivolol) was approved in December 2007 by the FDA for the treatment of hypertension. It is a member of a class of drugs known as beta-one selective beta blockers. Public Citizen recommend that new drugs should be on the market for seven years before readers use the medications, allowing enough time for postmarketing analysis to reveal potential long-term side effects.

At high doses, the drug could lose its selectivity and block beta-two receptors as well, the group warns. This could cause problems among patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), because other non-selective beta blockers, such as Normodyne and Trandate, can inhibit muscle relaxation throughout the body and the upper airway, impairing bronchial and bronchiolar dilation.

The drug’s label warns that it should be avoided by users suffering from heart failure, slow or irregular heartbeat, severe liver damage or who have asthma and COPD. Common side effects also include heart failure and fatigue.

A study published last October in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that beta blockers, often prescribed to prevent strokes and heart problems, may provide little benefit. Researchers found that statistically the drugs did not appear to have any benefit in lowering heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke rates. However, they warned that more randomized drug trials needed to be undertaken to get a better sense of the class’s efficacy.

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11 comments

  1. Betty Reply

    I’ve been taking Bystolic since about 2008 or 09 for high blood pressure. I was extremely upset to learn that this isn’t something that you can just stop taking. In 2010 I started suffering for fainting or near fainting spells but only while sitting. I was afraid to tell anyone until I fainted while driving one night in December 2012. Since then we have been trying to figure out why. I’ve had a battery of neurological testing and cardiac testing….found a slow heartbeat and was unable to raise my heart rate even with activity…in June 2013 I received a pacemaker for braydicardia I’m only 50. During all the testing I asked if Bystolic could be the reason for all of this….I never get response from anyone. Now my health insurance shows Bystolic as a high risk drug because of my medical issues. So I did some more reading on it. I slows down the heart and reduces the the amount blood that moves through the heart. So I have a pacemaker for my heart that is too slow and won’tl speed up …. never had an issue before……less blood pumping through my heart and not getting to the my limbs and brain possibly causing my fainting….I never fainted before in my life until after I started taking Bystolic. I want to stop taking it but I’ve read that it should be done slowly and under doctors care.

  2. Susan Reply

    I was put on Bystolic after coming off of metoprolol. Within a week I noticed a slight cough but didn’t relate it to Bystolic until it really starting getting bad. About a month later, every time I inhaled it caused me to cough. Finally it began to cause intense chest discomfort that terrified me. I made an appointment and insisted on coming off the drug. I was placed on Coreg, but while the cough lessened, it has continued. I have since come off the Coreg and my breathing is still not right. I can walk on the tredmill, but if I try to go to a slight jog, my throat and chest burn (for lack of a better description). I tell the Dr’s but I don’t think they believe me or want to acknowledge it. In my opinion, Bystolic is a horrible medication and I truly believe it has damaged something in my respiratory tract.

  3. James Reply

    On Bystolic since February 2014. I have had the following since joint pain in elbows and hips, cough, running nose, testicular pain and a daily asthma attack. That’s enough ,I never had asthma am in fine shape and none of these symptoms existed prior.

  4. Ron Reply

    My GP changed my BP med from clonidine to bystolic. Bystolic is a terrible drug. I took it for about one year and had recurring respiratory problems. It caused me to develop asthma at the age of 65. For 5 months, I have suffered from severe asthma. Have been to many doctors, had every test out there, been to the ER 3 times. I am taking antibiotics, steroids, etc., and using a nebulizer daily. Have been off bystolic for 2 months, but the bad side effects continue.

  5. Marilyn Reply

    I’m 76 years old and the Dr. prescribed Bystolic because my b/p was a “little” high.
    It’s the only drug I was taking and I will NEVER take another Bystolic tabled. My
    joints hurt so bad I couldn’t raise my arms, my legs bothered me and I had a cough. I
    know it was the Bystolic because after I quit taking it in about 2 months my joints quit
    hurting and the cough gradually subsided…Of course, the Dr. didn’t think Bystolic was
    the cause……yet no explanation for what went on. It’s a horrible drug!! I wonder how
    many people have died due to taking it and never knowing what the cause was.. I took
    it for just 6 mos……I think eventually it would’ve caused many more problems….

  6. Denise Reply

    In December 2013 I saw a cardiologist (at the request of my primary care provider) because of hypertension. Because I have had many adverse reactions to antibiotics, calcium channel blockers and anesthetics, I did not want to take medication, but the cardiologist made such dire predictions, if I failed to medicate, that I was frightened enough to fill his prescription for Bystolic 10mg. Knowing that I am very sensitive to medications, I took only 1/2 a tablet once a day. The first two/three weeks it lowered my blood pressure remarkably, but made me dizzy, unbalanced, extremely fatigued, and I had difficulty falling asleep, although I was sleepy during the day. After three weeks, I experienced blurred vision, dry mouth, cold extremities, joint pain, strange dreams, and tremors. I decided to begin weaning off Bystolic very slowly. I last took .25 mg on February 25, 2014. Although most of the side effects are gone, I am still having significant balance problems, occasional tremors, and some visual problems. I will not be bullied/frightened into taking medications in the future and rue the day that I took the doctor’s advice. I am currently getting physical therapy for gait rehabilitation, treatment for joint hypermobility and balance training. I fear that after almost a year some of these problems may be permanent.

  7. Diana Reply

    I took Bystolic for 6 months. I recently just came home from a short hospital stay that I attribute to Bystolic. I was so sick, couldn’t even think about eating food. My anxiety level went thru the roof. Muscular weakness. Stomach burning. They ran all kinds of tests. The Bystolic raised my triglycerides and glucose levels. I am home now but still so very weak and still nauseated. I felt as if I was going to die and still have bad anxiety of not getting rid of these symptoms. Bystolic is a horrible medication. It was good for a few months and then all of a sudden by blood pressure went crazy. Just praying that I can get over these horrible side effects. Bystolic was the only medication I was taking.

  8. Rebecca Reply

    I have been taking bystolic for about 10 years. It lowered my b/p significantly, with no side effects! I’ve taken other meds for high b/p, and they caused insomnia and chronic,annoying cough. Bystollic works really well for me, caused no weight gain nor other readings to go up.

  9. A.D. Sharpe Reply

    I weaned my dosage down to 2.5 mgs over several months. I stopped it about 4 weeks ago.

    My energy level has increased 4 or 5 fold.

    The old BP standard was Age + 100. I haven’t gotten to 176 since I discontnued, and usually is below the WHO imposed standard, intitiated after the Pharma Gang gave the two committees over 1/2 billion USD to find a “favorable” ruling that would sell more dope.

    Of course, at 76, I won’t be doing any walk-on tryouts with NFL teams this year.

    If you enjoy crazy dreams and insomnia, this is the drug for you!

  10. morten Reply

    I got severe nuerological problems from bystolic including balance problems. I have now stopped the med and it seems to be better now. Im very sensitive to meds.

  11. Iris-Maria Reply

    I was put on 20mg Bystolic about 2 years ago and suffered the whole time from extreme muscle and joint pains as well as a cough so bad that I threw up at times. I was always extremely cold and could not sleep at all. My headaches were so bad I actually thought I had a tumor. My BP was still high . I am off Bystolic now for two weeks and now I cannot evern vacuum my tiny apartment without severe chest burns and burns in my throat. The muscle pains are going aweay but my respiratory system is damaged and my heart beats so fast I am afraid that I will have a heartattack. It was so bad that I actually thought I had MS and my Doctor flat out told me it was all in my head and told me to double the dose of Bystolic . I did that for a week and thought I was going to die.

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