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Metoprolol tartrate: What is it? Uses, Costs, Benefits, Doses

If you’re one of the more than 100 million American adults struggling to manage your high blood pressure, your doctor may have spoken to you about taking a medication called metoprolol tartrate in conjunction with making healthy lifestyle changes. While taking a prescription medication gives some people pause, high blood pressure is a “silent killer” that is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease-related deaths in the United States. High blood pressure-related deaths rose 38 percent between 2005 and 2015, and the crisis continues. If you’re considering taking metoprolol tartrate in conjunction with living a healthy lifestyle to manage your high blood pressure, here’s what you need to know.

What is metoprolol tartrate?

Metoprolol tartrate, sometimes known under the brand name Lopressor, similar to Clonidine and Propranolol, belongs to a class of medication called beta-blockers. Beta-blockers slow down your heart rate and lower your blood flow pressure by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine. Metoprolol, which is the beta-blocker component of the medication, is combined with tartrate, a type of salt, to form metoprolol tartrate. Metoprolol can also be combined with a different type of salt called succinate to create the drug metoprolol succinate; the two medications treat different conditions and are not interchangeable.  

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition in which your blood consistently pushes against the walls of your blood vessels too forcefully for an extended period of time. This condition is dangerous because it increases the workload of the heart and blood vessels, causing them to work less efficiently and have to work harder to provide the tissues and organs with the blood they need to function. Over time, high blood pressure can cause a narrowing of the blood vessels by creating microtears in the walls of the arteries. This narrowing further prevents blood from reaching the different areas of the body and further elevates your blood pressure. High blood pressure can be caused by any number of factors, including living an unhealthy lifestyle, medications, health conditions, and genetics. About 95 percent of high blood pressure cases have no specific cause and are influenced primarily by lifestyle choices.

How does metoprolol tartrate treat high blood pressure?

Beta-blockers like metoprolol tartrate treat high blood pressure by preventing norepinephrine (adrenaline) from affecting beta-1 receptors in the heart tissue - hence the term “beta-blockers.” When this happens, the heart pumps more slowly and less forcefully, lowering blood pressure in the blood vessels. Because metoprolol tartrate works only on beta-1 receptors on normal doses, it does not have the same effects on breathing that other beta-blockers can have; however, at high doses, beta-2 receptors are also blocked in the lungs and airways, which can slow breathing.

What is the cost of metoprolol tartrate?

Regardless of whether it is purchased in its generic form or as the brand name, Lopressor, metoprolol tartrate is an affordable beta blocker. You may have fewer strength options available when purchasing Lopressor than when purchasing the generic form of metoprolol tartrate, as Lopressor and Propafenone is produced by one manufacturer while metoprolol tartrate is produced by many. The generic form of the medication is covered by nearly all commercial and Medicare drug insurance plans, and pharmacy discount cards can offer savings as well. Lopressor is covered by approximately 73 percent of insurance plans. Manufacturers coupons and patient assistance programs may be available for the brand name version of the drug information through the manufacturer’s website. 
 

Approximate Costs of Lopressor and Metoprolol Tartrate

 

Lopressor

Metoprolol tartrate

 

Per Pill

30 Day Supply

Per Pill

30 Day Supply

25 mg oral tablet

-

-

$0.43

$12.90

37.5 mg oral tablet

-

-

$1.12

$33.60

50 mg oral tablet

$2.73

$81.90

$0.50

$15.06

75 mg oral tablet

-

-

$1.80

$54.00

100 mg oral tablet

$4.03

$120.90

$0.56

$16.72

What are the benefits of metoprolol tartrate?

One of the biggest benefits of using metoprolol tartrate is that the drug can literally save your life; it has been shown to reduce the risk of death or another heart attack when administered immediately following a heart attack. Unlike other beta-blockers, metoprolol tartrate is selective at typical doses, meaning that it is less likely to impact breathing and insulin response than beta-blockers that are not selective. The drug is inexpensive in its generic form and the brand name medication is also covered by most insurance plans, so the medication is accessible to the majority of patients who need it. Metoprolol tartrate works quickly, taking effect within an hour. It has some useful off-label applications, too: metoprolol tartrate may be used to prevent migraines and treat certain arrhythmias under a doctor’s supervision.
 

What dose of metoprolol tartrate do I take?

Metoprolol tartrate is available in its generic form in 25 mg, 37.5 mg, 50 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg strengths. Due to the risk of possible side effects, your doctor will likely recommend starting on a low dose and gradually increasing your dose as needed. The recommended maintenance dosage of metoprolol tartrate ranges from 100 to 450 milligrams daily, as it is taken every 6 to 8 hours. If you need to stop taking metoprolol tartrate, you should do so only under a doctor’s supervision and on a gradual basis, tapering down over the course of one to two weeks. 

Are there any side effects I should be aware of?

There are numerous side effects associated with taking metoprolol tartrate at room temperature, the majority of which are similar to the side effects associated with other beta blockers. Common side effects associated with metoprolol tartrate include:

  • Blurred vision

  • Chest pain

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness

  • Slow or irregular heartbeat

  • Sweating

  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

  • Dry mouth

Less common side effects associated with metoprolol tartrate include:

  • Cough

  • Decreased urine output

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty speaking

  • Dilated neck veins

  • Double vision

  • Headache

  • Night blindness

  • Rapid weight gain

  • Short term memory loss

  • Tingling of the hands or feet

 

Rare, but possible side effects and adverse effects of metoprolol tartrate include:

  • Bluish color of skin

  • Chills

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever

  • Hoarseness

  • Itching skin

  • Rash 

  • Muscle pain or stiffness

  • Sore throat

  • Vomiting of blood

  • Shortness of breath

Is metoprolol tartrate safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding?

Metoprolol tartrate is classified as a category C drug interactions by the FDA for use in pregnant women, meaning it should only be used if clearly needed. No controlled data regarding birth defects in humans is currently available; however, studies in animals have revealed impacts to unborn fetuses. Metoprolol tartrate does pass through breast milk and can be transmitted to infants. Women who are breastfeeding should use caution and speak to their doctors for medical advice before using metoprolol tartrate.

Who should not take metoprolol tartrate?

If you are allergic to metoprolol tartrate or other beta-blockers, tell your doctor or pharmacist. It’s important to make your doctor aware of your complete medical history, particularly if you have a history of any of the following:

  • Heart rhythm problems (slow heartbeat, sick sinus syndrome, second or third-degree atrioventricular block)

  • Breathing problems (asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema)

  • Liver disease

  • Heart failure

  • Serious allergic reactions of any kind, particularly those needing treatment with epinephrine

  • Blood circulation problems (Raynaud’s disease, peripheral vascular disease)

  • Mental/mood disorders

  • Myasthenia gravis

People with diabetes may notice that metoprolol tartrate masks the accelerated heartbeat they experience during a hypoglycemic episode. Metoprolol tartrate will not impact dizziness and sweating associated with low blood sugar, but it may make it more difficult to control your blood sugar. Diabetics should check their blood sugar regularly while taking metoprolol and should tell their doctor about high blood sugar symptoms right away.

Taking immediate-release metoprolol tartrate can make you dizzy or drowsy. The use of alcohol or marijuana can increase these feelings. You should not drive or do anything that requires alertness until you know how metoprolol affects you.

How do I know if metoprolol tartrate is right for me?

Metoprolol tartrate is an inexpensive and effective drug, but it’s not right for everyone. Just like any medication such as Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, and Quinidine, one medication isn't the answer for all. The medication, just like toprol xl, is an excellent choice for people who have high blood pressure, angina, or have experienced a heart attack. It must be taken with or immediately following meals in order to be absorbed properly, which may not be ideal for some people’s schedules. Because metroprolol tartrate works for only six to eight hours, it must be taken several times a day, which some people may find inconvenient. It cannot be substituted with other beta blocker salt types. While taking metoprolol tartrate, you’ll need to be regularly monitored by your doctor. The medication should not be discontinued suddenly; it is recommended to gradually reduce your dose over a period of time.
 


 
Published March 2nd, 2020 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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