Can Ativan (Lorazepam) cause heart palpitations?

Can Ativan Improve Heart Palpitations or make them Worse

What is Ativan (Lorazepam)?

Ativan is an anti-anxiety drug. The generic name is Lorazepam. The group or class of anti-anxiety drugs includes many medications and Ativan (Lorazepam) is just one of them. This group of drugs is also called minor tranquilizers, benzodiazepines are sedative hypnotics which are equivalent terms to anti-anxiety drugs. 

They are all central nervous system depressants. All benzodiazepines can cause physical dependence, usually after 14 days (or more) of use. As they cause addiction they are only prescribed for short periods of time and should be used as prescribed by your physician.

Ativan is prescribed very often because it is considered to have a moderate potential for developing addiction. Ativan is a modern benzodiazepine, which means that is more anxiolytic (relieves anxiety) than hypnotic (gives sleep)

. Lorazepam is used in surgery as a pre-anesthetic drug because it helps in reducing the required anesthesia and optimizes the effect of other anesthesia drugs. Also, it is widely used for seizures, insomnia and anxiety as a short-term treatment.

This drug acts on the nervous inhibitory system - GABA-neurotransmitter and gives mental and physical relaxation. These drugs do not increase the GABA’s synthesis, they just enhance its action. Ativan is prescribed for maximum 3 or 4 months, longer use has a high risk for physical dependence or addiction.

Ativan, due to the potential for addiction after chronic use, causes withdrawal to those patients who try to stop using it. The dosage is 0.5 to 10mg per day. Doctors start with lower dose and then gradually raise it until the required effect becomes evident.

The treatment with Ativan must be stopped gradually. This process is called tapering where doctor reduces by 1/8 or ¼   your daily dose every two weeks until you finally stop taking it. This is done to give the body time to adapt and not experience withdrawal symptoms or make them light.

Withdrawal can be present with a vary kinds of manifestations. Often ativan cause heart palpitations or other heart and brain side effects. Paradoxical effects are also documented.

Can Ativan cause heart palpitations?

Yes, Ativan cause heart palpitations, common during the withdrawal time. This means that you may experience heart palpitations after you stop the drug not before.

What is the mechanism of Ativan causing palpitations?

Palpitations are associated with an increased sympathetic nervous system response at the withdrawal time. This is because the inhibitory nervous system is not able to produce enough impulses to inhibit the sympathetic response. Also, Ativan may cause hypertension, bradycardia, and tachycardia which may be related to palpitations. Panic attacks, anxiety, irritability and stomach troubles may give you the sense of palpitations in your chest.

What about management?

Management consists in medical detox. This means that in order to minimize the withdrawal symptoms, your doctor will slowly reduce the drug dosages you take, and may give you other drugs that will make the process more comfortable. Melatonin (sleep inducing hormone) and the anti-depressant drug Paxil (Paroxetine) can ease the symptoms. In the case of seizures anticonvulsants are prescribed.

This is an informative article. For all the problems you may have you must ask for medical help. Do not try raising your dose! If you are addicted be patient and go through the detox process. It can be a difficult process but most of the patients get over it successfully. There are specific programs for drug addiction that can help you be free from Ativan. Your doctor will discuss with you all the available options according to your health condition and decide for the best solutions.

Return to Home Page

Are you looking for information about something in particular? Use this handy search box to see if its written about on this site...