Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Beta blockers and alcohol

Thomas Lee, M.D. and Richard Lee, M.D.

Q. I take the beta blocker propranolol twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. The drug information label says I should not take propranolol with alcohol. But I like to have two glasses of wine in the evening. Do I need to change medications, or is there a way to handle the wine and propranolol together?

A. Propranolol (Inderal, generic) is metabolized quite quickly, so it doesn't last a whole day. That's why you need to take it twice a day. Alcohol and propranolol together can lead to increased levels of propranolol in the blood. The easiest way for you to deal with this is to ask your doctor to switch you to a once-a-day beta blocker, like nadolol (Corgard, generic) or slow-release metoprolol (Toprol-XL), which you will take in the morning.

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