Bisoprolol is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.

If you have high blood pressure, taking bisoprolol helps to prevent future heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Bisoprolol is also used to prevent chest pain caused by angina. It is also used to treat atrial fibrillation and other conditions that cause an irregular heartbeat.

This medicine is only available on prescription. It comes as tablets.

  • Bisoprolol slows down your heart rate and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood around your body.
  • Your very first dose of bisoprolol may make you feel dizzy, so take it at bedtime. After that, if you don’t feel dizzy, it’s best to take it in the morning.
  • It’s usual to take bisoprolol once a day in the morning.
  • The main side effects of bisoprolol are feeling dizzy or sick,
    headache, cold hands or feet, constipation or diarrhoea – these are usually mild and short-lived.
  • Bisoprolol is also known by the brand names Cardicor and Congescor.

Bisoprolol can be taken by adults aged 18 and over.
It isn’t suitable for everyone.

To make sure it is safe for you, tell your doctor before starting bisoprolol if you have:

  • had an allergic reaction to bisoprolol or any other medicine in the past
  • low blood pressure or a slow heart rate
  • heart failure which is getting worse, heart disease, or you’ve recently had a heart attack
  • severe blood circulation problems in your limbs (such as Raynaud’s phenomenon), which may make your fingers and toes tingle or turn pale or blue
  • metabolic acidosis – when there is too much acid in your blood
  • a lung disease or severe asthma

It’s usual to take bisoprolol once a day in the morning.

Your doctor may advise you to take your first dose before bedtime, because it can make you feel dizzy. After the first dose if you don’t feel dizzy, take bisoprolol in the morning.

Like all medicines, bisoprolol can cause side effects in some people but many people have no side effects or only minor ones. Side effects often improve as your body gets used to the medicine.

Common side effects

These common side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people. They’re usually mild and short-lived.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if the side effects bother you or last more than a few days:

Serious side effects

It happens rarely, but some people have serious side effects when taking bisoprolol.

Tell a doctor straight away if you have:

  • shortness of breath with a cough which gets worse when you exercise (like walking up stairs), swollen ankles or legs, chest pain, an irregular heartbeat – these are signs of heart problems
  • shortness of breath, wheezing and tightening of the chest – these can be signs of lung problems
  • yellow skin or eyes – these can be signs of liver problems

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, bisoprolol may cause a serious allergic reaction.

What to do about:

  • headaches – make sure you rest and drink plenty of
    fluids. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Headaches usually go away after the first week of taking bisoprolol. Talk to your doctor if the headaches last longer than a week or are severe.

  • feeling dizzy or weak – if bisoprolol makes you
    feel dizzy or weak, stop what you’re doing and sit or lie down until you feel better. Don’t drive or use tools or machinery if you’re feeling tired. Don’t drink alcohol as it will make you feel worse.

  • cold hands or feet – put your hands or feet under
    warm running water, massage them and wriggle your fingers and toes. Don’t smoke or have drinks with caffeine in – these can make your blood vessels narrower and restrict your blood flow. Smoking also makes your skin colder. Try wearing mittens (they’re warmer than gloves) and warm socks. Don’t wear tight watches or bracelets.
  • feeling sick or vomiting – stick to simple meals
    and don’t eat rich or spicy food. It might help to take your bisoprolol after you’ve eaten. If you’re vomiting, try small frequent sips of water.
  • diarrhoea – drink plenty of water or other fluids.
    It may also help to take oral rehydration solutions, which you can buy from a pharmacy, to prevent dehydration. Don’t take any other medicines to treat diarrhoea without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.
  • constipationeat more high-fibre foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and cereals, and drink plenty of water. Try to exercise more regularly, for example, by going for a daily walk or run. If this doesn’t help, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. Watch this short video about how to treat constipation.

Bisoprolol is not usually recommended in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

If you’re trying to get pregnant or you’re already pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking bisoprolol.

There may be other blood pressure-lowering medicines that are safer for you. Labetalol is a similar medicine that is often recommended for high blood pressure in pregnancy.

Bisoprolol and breastfeeding

There’s not a lot of information about the safety of bisoprolol if you’re breastfeeding.

Small amounts of bisoprolol may get into breast milk and this can cause low blood pressure in your baby.

Talk to your doctor as other medicines for high blood pressure might be better while you’re breastfeeding.

There are some medicines that may interfere with the way bisoprolol works.

Tell your doctor if you’re taking:

  • other medicines for high blood pressure. The combination with bisoprolol can sometimes lower your blood pressure too much. This may make you feel dizzy or faint. If this keeps happening to you, tell your doctor – they may change your dose
  • other medicines which can lower your blood pressure such as some antidepressants, nitrates (for chest pain), baclofen (a muscle relaxant), medicines for an enlarged prostate gland like tamsulosin, or Parkinson’s disease medicines, such as co-careldopa and levodopa
  • non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen – they can stop bisoprolol from working as well as it should
  • steroids, like prednisolone
  • cough medicines that contain pseudoephedrine or xylometazoline
  • medicines for diabetes – bisoprolol may make it more difficult to recognise the warning signs of low blood sugar
  • medicines for allergies, such as ephedrine, noradrenaline or adrenaline
  • medicines for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • rifampicin, an antibiotic

Mixing bisoprolol with herbal remedies or supplements

There’s very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements with bisoprolol.

How does bisoprolol work?