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Oxprenolol - a beta-blocker

Clinical author's note Michael Stewart 18/01/2019: at the time of review there are no branded or generic products containing oxprenolol available in the UK. Products may still be available in other countries. This medicine leaflet is based on medical information available in the UK at the time of writing and is left here for reference purposes only. Please also refer to the manufacturer's information supplied with your medicine.

Oxprenolol is used to treat a number of different conditions. If you are unsure why you are taking it, please speak with your doctor.

Treatment with oxprenolol is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly unless your doctor tells you to stop.

The most common side-effects are dry mouth and constipation.

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About oxprenolol

Type of medicine

A beta-adrenoceptor blocking medicine (often referred to as a beta-blocker)

Used for

Hypertension; angina; arrhythmias; some symptoms of anxiety

Available as

Tablets (discontinued in UK)

Oxprenolol belongs to the group of medicines known as beta-blockers. It is used for a number of different problems. It is prescribed on a continuous basis to treat high blood pressure (hypertension), and to prevent angina pain and also abnormally fast heartbeats (arrhythmias). It can also be prescribed for short periods of time to ease some symptoms of anxiety.

Beta-blockers slow down the activity of your heart by stopping messages sent by some nerves to your heart. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called beta-adrenergic receptors) where the messages are received by your heart. As a result, your heart beats more slowly and with less force. This allows the pressure of blood within your blood vessels to be reduced if you have high blood pressure, and helps to prevent abnormally fast heart rhythms. Because your heart is using less energy, it also helps to prevent chest pain if you have angina attacks.

Anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and the sensation of having a 'thumping heart' (palpitations). Because oxprenolol slows your heart rate, it can help to ease these symptoms. Oxprenolol will not help to relieve the emotional symptoms of anxiety such as stress and fear - these will be treated separately.

Before taking oxprenolol

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking oxprenolol it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • If you have asthma or any other breathing disorder.

  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works.

  • If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.

  • If you have diabetes (diabetes mellitus).

  • If you have a skin problem called psoriasis.

  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.

  • If you have been told you have a slow heartbeat, heart failure, or heart block (a slow and irregular heartbeat).

  • If you have been told you have chest pain caused by spasms of your heart's blood vessels, called Prinzmetal's angina.

  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other serious allergic reaction.

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How to take oxprenolol

  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about oxprenolol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.

  • Take oxprenolol exactly as your doctor tells you to - the directions will be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you about what the doctor said. Your dose will depend upon the type of tablets you are taking and the reason for you taking them but, as a guide, it is usual to take oxprenolol one, two, or three times daily. There are different strengths of tablet available, so each time you collect a fresh supply it is a good idea to check to make sure you receive the strength you are expecting. If you have any questions, please ask your pharmacist to advise you.

  • Swallow the tablet with a drink of water. You can take oxprenolol either before or after meals, but try to take your doses at the same time of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them regularly.

  • If you are taking a modified-release form of oxprenolol, it is important that you swallow the tablets whole. Do not chew or crush them.

  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.

  • Treatment with oxprenolol is usually long-term (except if you are taking it for anxiety). Continue to take the tablets unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.

  • If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, it is important to tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking a beta-blocker. This is particularly important if you are likely to be given an anaesthetic.

  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking oxprenolol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure-lowering effect of oxprenolol which will make you feel dizzy and so may not be recommended for you.

  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with oxprenolol. Some medicines (including some anti-inflammatory painkillers, and cold or flu remedies) may not be.

  • Your doctor may give you dietary and lifestyle advice about eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise. If so, it is important that you follow the advice you are given.

  • If you have diabetes, oxprenolol can block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will advise you about this.

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Can oxprenolol cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with oxprenolol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common oxprenolol side-effects

What can I do if I experience this?

Feeling tired or dizzy

If this happens, do not drive and do not use tools or machines while affected

Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)

Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy foods. If you are not already doing so, try taking your doses after meals

Dry mouth

Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets. Drink plenty of water


Drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet


Drink plenty of water and ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headaches continue, let your doctor know

Feeling short of breath

If this happens, speak with your doctor as soon as possible

Cold fingers and toes, feeling depressed, nightmares or disturbed sleep, reduced desire for sex

If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

How to store oxprenolol

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Important information about all medicines

Important information about all medicines

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Report side effects to a medicine or vaccine

If you experience side effects, you can report them online through the Yellow Card website.

Further reading and references

Article history

The information on this page is written and peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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