Compare Atenolol vs. Catapres

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Tenormin
(Atenolol)

Catapres
(Clonidine)

Lowers blood pressure and controls heart rate. Tenormin (Atenolol) is good for controlling chest pain and treating heart failure and heart attack with fewer side effects than other beta blockers. You have to take it on an empty stomach, and you can't miss doses.Lowers blood pressure. Catapres (Clonidine) is a good addition if you need more than one medicine to control your blood pressure, but it has a lot of side effects. You can't miss doses.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
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4.896860986547085Atenolol
Reviews for Tenormin (Atenolol)
57%
of people say Tenormin (Atenolol) is worth it
48%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Catapres (Clonidine)
42%
15% vs. Tenormin (Atenolol)
33%
15% vs. Tenormin (Atenolol)
34%
18% vs. Tenormin (Atenolol)
Side effects
AtenololCatapres
  • Tiredness 13%
  • Dizziness 7%
  • Cold extremities 7%
  • Low mood disorder 3%
  • Vivid dreams 2%
  • Shortness of breath 2%
  • Leg pain 2%
  • Nausea 2%
  • Diarrhea 1%
  • Fatigue 1%
More Atenolol side effects »

The Catapres FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Catapres side effects »
How it works
AtenololCatapres
Tenormin (Atenolol) is a selective beta blocker that works specifically on the heart. It lowers blood pressure by slowing down the heart and making it less work to pump.Catapres (Clonidine) is an alpha-2 agonist. It works in the brain to tell your blood vessels to relax, and it lowers the activity of certain stress hormones. This lowers blood pressure.
Type of medication
AtenololCatapres
Antihypertensive
Beta blocker
Prescription only
Antihypertensive
Alpha agonist
Prescription only
Available as
AtenololCatapres
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Patch
Used for (click to learn more)
AtenololCatapres
Risk factors for serious side effects
AtenololCatapres
  • Suddenly stopping Tenormin (Atenolol)
    • Taking calcium channel blockers
    • Major surgery requiring anesthesia
    • Diabetes
      • Taking clonidine
      Detailed Tenormin (Atenolol) risks & warnings »
      • Sudden discontinuation of medicine
      • Taking with alcohol
      • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
      • Age 65 years or older
      • Using other medicine(s) that slows the heart
      Detailed Catapres (Clonidine) risks & warnings »
      Pregnancy category
      AtenololCatapres
      DFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      Alcohol
      No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
      Food
      No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
      Kidneys and liver
      No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      Sex
      No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
      Sleep
      No specific sleep-related info.
      • Can cause drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and dry mouth.
      Weight
      No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
      Upsides and benefits
      AtenololCatapres
      • A first-choice treatment to prevent chest pain (angina).
      • A first-choice treatment for heart failure and heart attack.
      • At lower doses, Atenolol has fewer side effects than most beta blockers because it targets the heart and doesn't cross into the brain and central nervous system.
      • Can be added to other blood pressure-lowering medicines if you need additional blood pressure control.
      • Available in a weekly patch for people that aren't good at taking medicine by mouth.
      • Works in the brain, so it can help treat some nervous system and psychiatric conditions.
      • Under the brand name Kapvay, it's used to treat ADHD in children and teenagers.
      Downsides and risks
      AtenololCatapres
      • You have to take Atenolol on an empty stomach.
      • Taking a beta blocker might make you feel more tired or out of breath during exercise or normal daily routines. This gets better for most people, but for some might not go away.
      • Not a first-choice treatment for high blood pressure according to the latest guidelines, except if you have heart failure or heart disease. As a second choice, your doctor might add it to medicines you're already taking if your blood pressure is still too high.
      • You can't miss doses. Stopping Atenolol suddenly can cause your blood pressure to go up suddenly, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
      • Can hide symptoms of low blood sugar if you're diabetic.
      • Has a lot of side effects compared to other blood pressure-lowering medicine because it works in the brain.
      • The pill form can make some people sleepy, dizzy, and have dry mouth.
      • You can't miss doses. Stopping Clonidine suddenly can cause your blood pressure to go up suddenly, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.
      Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
      AtenololCatapres
      • Take it on an empty stomach.
      • Can cause dizziness in the first few days.
      • Can cause fatigue and insomnia.
      • Can hide symptoms of low blood sugar. Be careful if you're diabetic.
      • Check your blood pressure 1 week after starting this medicine, and tell your doctor if it hasn't improved.
      • Don't stop taking this medicine suddenly.
      • Usually taken together with other medicines for better blood pressure control.
      • Can cause drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and dry mouth.
      • If side effects don't go away, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
      • The weekly patch form can have fewer side effects.
      • Extended release tablet also used to treat ADHD.
      • Check your blood pressure 1 week after starting this medicine, and tell your doctor if it hasn't improved.
      • Don't stop taking this medicine suddenly.
      Learn more
      More about AtenololSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about CatapresSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert