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Pregnancy Category C


Drug classes

Alpha- and beta-adrenergic blocker



Therapeutic actions

Competitively blocks alpha-, beta-, and beta2-adrenergic receptors and has some sympathomimetic activity at beta2-receptors. Both alpha and beta blocking actions contribute to the BP-lowering effect; beta blockade prevents the reflex tachycardia seen with most alpha-blocking drugs and decreases plasma renin activity. Significantly reduces plasma renin activity.



        Hypertension, alone or with other oral drugs, especially diuretics

        Treatment of mild to severe CHF of ischemic or cardiomyopathic origin with digitalis, diuretics, ACE inhibitors

        Left ventricular dysfunction (LVD) after MI

        Unlabeled uses: Angina (25–50 mg bid)


Contraindications and cautions

        Contraindicated with decompensated CHF, bronchial asthma, heart block, cardiogenic shock, hypersensitivity to carvedilol, pregnancy, lactation.

        Use cautiously with hepatic impairment, peripheral vascular disease, thyrotoxicosis, diabetes, anesthesia, major surgery.


Available forms

Tablets—3.125, 6.25, 12.5, 25 mg




        Hypertension: 6.25 mg PO bid; maintain for 7–14 days, then increase to 12.5 mg PO bid if needed to control BP. Do not exceed 50 mg/day.

        CHF: Monitor patient very closely, individualize dose based on patient response. Initial dose, 3.125 mg PO bid for 2 wk, may then be increased to 6.25 mg PO bid. Maximum dose, 25 mg PO bid in patients < 85 kg or 50 mg PO bid in patients > 85 kg.


Safety and efficacy not established.


Do not administer to any patient with severe hepatic impairment.









30 min

8–10 hr

Metabolism: Hepatic; T1/2: 7–10 hr

Distribution: Crosses placenta; may enter breast milk

Excretion: Bile, feces


Adverse effects

        CNS: Dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, fatigue, emotional depression, paresthesias, sleep disturbances

        CV: Bradycardia, orthostatic hypertension, CHF, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edema, hypotension

        GI: Gastric pain, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, hepatic failure

        Respiratory: Rhinitis, pharyngitis, dyspnea

        Other: Fatigue, back pain, infections



        Increased effectiveness of antidiabetics; monitor blood glucose and adjust dosages appropriately

        Increased effectiveness of clonidine; monitor patient for potential severe bradycardia and hypotension

        Increased serum levels of digoxin; monitor serum levels and adjust dose accordingly

        Increased plasma levels of carvedilol with rifampin

        Potential for dangerous conduction system disturbances with verapamil or diltiazem; if this combination is used, closely monitor ECG and BP


        Slowed rate of absorption but not decreased effectiveness with food


Nursing considerations


        History: CHF, bronchial asthma, heart block, cardiogenic shock, hypersensitivity to carvedilol, pregnancy, lactation, hepatic impairment, peripheral vascular disease, thyrotoxicosis, diabetes, anesthesia or major surgery

        Physical: Baseline weight, skin condition, neurologic status, P, BP, ECG, respiratory status, kidney and thyroid function, blood and urine glucose, liver function tests



        WARNING: Do not discontinue drug abruptly after chronic therapy (hypersensitivity to catecholamines may have developed, causing exacerbation of angina, MI, and ventricular arrhythmias); taper drug gradually over 2 wk with monitoring.

        Consult with physician about withdrawing drug if patient is to undergo surgery (withdrawal is controversial).

        Give with food to decrease orthostatic hypotension and adverse effects.

        Monitor for orthostatic hypotension and provide safety precautions.

        Monitor patients with diabetes closely; drug may mask hypoglycemia or worsen hyperglycemia.

        WARNING: Monitor patient for any sign of liver dysfunction (pruritus, dark urine or stools, anorexia, jaundice, pain); arrange for liver function tests and discontinue drug if tests indicate liver injury. Do not restart carvedilol.


Teaching points

        Take drug with meals.

        Do not stop taking drug unless instructed to do so by a health care provider.

        Avoid use of OTC medications.

        You may experience these side effects: Depression, dizziness, light-headedness (avoid driving or performing dangerous activities; getting up and changing positions slowly may help ease dizziness).

        Report difficulty breathing, swelling of extremities, changes in color of stool or urine, very slow heart rate, continued dizziness.


Adverse effects in Italic are most common; those in Bold are life-threatening.