What is rate control medicines?

Rate-control medicines: Overview

Rate-control medicines are used if your heart beats too fast. These drugs can slow down your heart rate. They can also ease the symptoms of a fast heart rate.

When your heart beats too fast, you may feel dizzy or pass out. You may have chest pain. Also, your heart may race or pound.

These drugs can be used to treat problems such as atrial fibrillation.

There are three common types of these drugs. They are beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and digoxin.

What are examples of rate-control medicines?


  • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Carvedilol (Coreg)
  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol)

Calcium channel blockers

  • Diltiazem (Cardizem, Taztia)
  • Verapamil (Calan, Verelan)


  • Digoxin (Lanoxin)

What are some cautions about rate-control medicines?

  • Too much digoxin can poison you. This happens when there is too much of the drug in your body. Call your doctor if:
    • You lose your appetite.
    • You have stomach problems. You may feel sick to your stomach. Or you may vomit or have diarrhea.
    • Your vision changes.
    • You are confused.
    • Your heartbeat is not normal.
    • You passed out.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking a beta-blocker. This can cause high blood pressure, a heart attack, or a dangerous heart rhythm.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before you use any other medicines. These include over-the-counter medicines. Make sure your doctor knows all of the medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take. Taking some medicines together can cause problems.

What are the side effects of rate-control medicines?

Common side effects of beta-blockers include:

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Feeling tired.
  • Having worse asthma symptoms.
  • Having a low heart rate or blood pressure.

Common side effects of calcium channel blockers include:

  • Constipation.
  • Swollen legs.

You may have other side effects or reactions not listed here. Check the information that comes with your medicine.

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