How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Carvedilol belongs to the class of medications called beta-blockers. Carvedilol is used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), including severe heart failure. It is often taken with a diuretic (water pill) and an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor.

CHF occurs when the heart is unable to pump efficiently enough to supply adequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood to different areas of the body. Carvedilol helps this situation by relaxing blood vessels, reducing the need for oxygen in the body, and by helping the heart beat more regularly and efficiently.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

3.125 mg
Each white, oval, biconvex, film-coated tablet, imprinted with the "CL" on one side and plain on the other side, contains carvedilol 3.125 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: clear opadry, colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, and white opadry II.

6.25 mg
Each white, oval, biconvex, film-coated tablet, imprinted with the "CL1" on one side and plain on the other side, contains carvedilol 6.25 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: clear opadry, colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, and white opadry II.

12.5 mg
Each white, oval, biconvex, film-coated tablet, imprinted with the "CL2" on one side and plain on the other side, contains carvedilol 12.5 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: clear opadry, colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, and white opadry II.

25 mg
Each white, oval, biconvex, film-coated tablet, imprinted with the "CL3" on one side and plain on the other side, contains carvedilol 25 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: clear opadry, colloidal silicon dioxide, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, and white opadry II.

How should I use this medication?

The usual recommended starting dose for this medication is 3.125 mg twice daily in order to allow the body to get used to it. Your doctor will then increase the dose every 2 weeks until the most effective dose is reached.

Carvedilol should be taken with food.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses within 6 hours of one another. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take carvedilol if you:

  • are allergic to carvedilol or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • have a certain type of heart valve disease
  • have a type of heart failure known as decompensated heart failure
  • have a very slow heart rate
  • have bronchial asthma or certain other breathing conditions
  • have cardiogenic shock
  • have certain types of heart rhythm problems
  • have certain types of liver disease
  • have mental incapacity, unless closely supervised by an appropriate caregiver
  • have serious heart block (second- or third-degree AV block)
  • have very low blood pressure

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • blurred vision
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • elevated blood sugar
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • impotence
  • joint or muscle pain
  • low blood pressure, especially when standing from a sitting or laying position
  • nausea
  • pain
  • slow heartbeat
  • vomiting
  • weight gain

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blood in urine
  • chest pain
  • dark urine
  • decreased appetite
  • depression
  • fainting
  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms
  • itching
  • generalized swelling or swelling of feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • shortness of breath
  • tenderness on upper right side of body
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • yellow eyes or skin

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (i.e., swelling of face or throat, hives, or difficulty breathing)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Diabetes: This medication may make it more difficult for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar. Your doctor will monitor you while you are taking this medication and may need to adjust the doses of antidiabetes medications.

Dizziness/fainting: Dizziness and fainting are side effects of carvedilol and may occur after first starting this medication. Do not drive a car or do anything that requires alertness until you know how this medication affects you.

Heart failure: Beta-blockers like carvedilol can worsen existing heart failure. It is important to take carvedilol exactly as prescribed by your doctor to decrease the chance of this happening.

Kidney or liver function: If you have reduced kidney or liver function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Low blood pressure: Occasionally, blood pressure drops too low after taking this medication. This usually happens after the first or second dose or when the dose is increased. To reduce the risk of dizziness, get up slowly from a lying or sitting position. If low blood pressure causes you to faint or feel lightheaded, contact your doctor.

Prinzmetal's angina: Carvedilol may increase the number and duration of angina attacks in patients with Prinzmetal's angina. Therefore, people how have this condition should be cautious while taking carvedilol.

Primary regurgitative valvular heart disease: Carvedilol should be use with caution in patients with this condition.

Severe allergies: People with allergies severe enough to cause anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction where swelling of the face, lips, and throat make it difficult to breathe) should talk to their doctor about what to do if they have an allergic reaction. Carvedilol may make it more difficult to treat their allergic reaction with epinephrine.

Stopping the medication: People with heart disease who stop taking this medication abruptly may experience severe effects, such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, or heart attack. If you have heart disease, do not stop taking this medication without checking with your doctor first. When this medication needs to be stopped, it should be done gradually under supervision of your doctor.

Thyroid: If you have a thyroid condition, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: The medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if carvedilol passes into human breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between carvedilol and any of the following:

  • antidiabetes medications (e.g., insulin, metformin, gliclazide)
  • beta-2 agonists (e.g., formoterol, salmeterol, salbutamol)
  • bosutinib
  • bupropion
  • calcium channel blocking agents (e.g., diltiazem, verapamil)
  • cimetidine
  • clonidine
  • colchicine
  • cyclosporine
  • digoxin
  • epinephrine
  • ergot products (e.g., ergotamine, ergonovine)
  • everolimus
  • fluoxetine
  • grapefruit juice
  • MAO inhibitors (e.g., phenelzine, tranylcypromine)
  • medications that affect heart rhythm
  • medications that lower blood pressure
  • nitroglycerin
  • paroxetine
  • quinidine
  • rifampin
  • ritonavir
  • rituximab
  • tipranavir
  • topotecan
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, nortriptyline)

If you are taking any of these, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.