Time-course of the anti-hypertensive action of atenolol: Comparison of response to first dose and to maintained oral administration

G. Leonetti, L. Terzoli, C. Bianchini, C. Sala, A. Zanchetti

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To show whether repeated administration of atenolol for several days would influence its pharmacokinetic parameters and the extent and duration of the pharmacologic responses, the plasma level of atenolol and changes in heart rate, blood pressure and plasma renin activity were measured in 12 hypertensive patients at various times of day (9 a. m., 12 noon, 3 p. m. and 7 p. m.) after oral administration of the first dose of atenolol 100 mg, again during the 7th and 14th days of continued once-daily administration of the same dose, and finally during the three days following withdrawal of the drug. The peak plasma concentration of atenolol (about 600 ng/ml) was found 3 h after administration of the first dose, and measurable amounts (50-70 ng/ml) were found after 24 h. None of the pharmacokinetic characteristics were changed by administration of a single daily dose for two weeks. After withdrawal of the drug, detectable amounts of atenolol were found in plasma for at least 48 h. The first dose of atenolol caused prompt (3 h) and prolonged (up to 24 h) lowering of supine and standing systolic and diastolic blood pressures, slowing of supine and standing heart rate, reduction of the blood pressure and heart rate responses to dynamic exercise, and a decrease in plasma renin activity. The extent and time-course of all these responses were not influenced by repeated once-daily administration of the 100 mg dose for two weeks. Most of the effects continued during the withdrawal days, the lowering of blood pressure being somewhat more prolonged than the slowing of heart rate. It is concluded that a once-daily dose of atenolol 100 mg decreases blood pressure and heart rate throughout the following 24 h, without excessive daily fluctuation in its effects, and without signs of tolerance or accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1980


  • atenolol
  • hypertension
  • pharmacodynamic effects
  • pharmacokinetics
  • plasma renin activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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