young woman checking her hair in a mirror

Q. I have had thinning hair since I started on blood pressure meds. I had to switch to a short haircut. Since then I have been put on atenolol, Norvasc, Diovan and enalapril. I suspect the beta-blocker is responsible for the fact that you can see more scalp than hair.

Even with the shortest punkiest cut, you see scalp and it is embarrassing. I now own a myriad of wigs, but I can’t seem to get used to them.

When women lose hair due to chemo, it is met with empathy. Saying it’s my blood pressure pills doesn’t provoke the same reaction. I am now 62 so this has been going on for years but it has become much worse since I started atenolol.

A. Hair loss is frequently an under-appreciated side effect of medications. Prescribers may not mention this complication.

You are right that atenolol, like other beta-blockers, can cause hair loss. Diovan, amlodipine (Norvasc) and enalapril are somewhat less likely to trigger this reaction. Finding the best blood pressure treatment that does not do this will require some sleuthing by your doctor.

To help you with this discussion we are sending our Guide to Hair and Nail Care with a list of medications that cause hair loss.

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  1. connie

    I have been taking atenolol and lisinapril and also amlodipine for awhile now. I have less then half the hair I had. It seems as though if I even run my fingers through my hair I get two or three stands each time and my hair brush just seems to fill so quickly with lost hair. I know its one or all of the blood pressure medications and I don’t feel like any of the doctors will be honest about what they know about the side effects of blood pressure medication. I have reduced my medication on my own, but I don’t recommend anyone do that for safety reasons. I also started with the lessor dosage to see if it would help and added turmeric and biotin supplements. So far no changes in hair loss. I suspect it could be the higher dose of 80mg of the atenolol. But working my way down as safely as I can.

  2. Freddy
    West Sussex

    I have been on Atenalol and Lisinopril for 17 years, since I was 5. I am coming up to 22 years old and I have thinning hair on the top, massively. This seems to be since I started taking Amlodopine. 1-2 years later my blood pressure is finally under control, for the first time ever, but I am rapidly losing my thick blonde hair. I’m currently looking to alter what I can with the GP and my doctor in London.

  3. David

    I’ve seen all the complaints, but has anyone received an answer to any of the hair loss complaints. Is there a blood pressure medicine that lowers blood pressure without hair loss?

    • Walter W

      I used amlodopine but it ruined my gums. Fewer than 1% have this problem but I was one of that 1%. I too am losing my hair and being a female I am so upset since I had very thick hair and people use to comment on how beautiful is was. I am on valsartan and metoprolol. I hope it is not that that is causing hair loss but I have a feeling it is.

  4. Crystal
    Crescent City

    My hair has been thinning for many years. I had a heart episode in 2008 & was on Lisinopril & my hair has been falling out. I went to a natural hormone doctor and he put me on spironolactone for hair loss. Cannot tell if it helping…still have very thin hair, but I’ve only been taking it for a few months.

    It is horrible that docs do not tell us that long term use of medications for depression & anxiety only make us dependent & have many, many side effects. I began using coconut oil on my scalp overnight. The day I was to wash my hair (next day), I rub rosemary essential oils on the thinning spots. It seems to be somewhat better.

    I think the reason that doctors don’t tell us about the side effects, is because the pharmaceudical industry pushes the use of their medications on them…gives them incentives (free meds). It is a huge industry and going natural is the only way to fight against them.

  5. Vr

    Been taking BP meds for about 30 years and my hair is bald at the top. It has been bald for about 15 years . Won’t grow back no matter what I use. I get so upset !!! Hate wigs.

  6. Vr

    I have been taking blood pressure medicines for about 30 years and I have had bald spots for about the past 10 or 15 years. Have used so many conditioners trying to make it grow back, no luck . Wish someone could help me!!!

  7. Laura
    Toms River, NJ

    Been taking amlodipine for about 10 yrs. and have noticed significant hair loss. Not all at once, just thinning and thinning to the point that I am now using all kinds of hair thickening products and vitamins to make me look half way decent without the use of wigs. What I don’t understand is when your blood pressure is under control, why don’t these doctors try to wean you off of the medication? It’s is like, once you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, you are doomed to take these pills for the rest of your life!

  8. Susan
    Palm Springs

    My hair had been thinning with bald spots since taking Lisinopril for many years. I now fight back with an advanced DHT blocker hair and nail vitamin and 1000 mg per day Fo-ti. ( He shou wu)

    I use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for hair loss. It is helping me, I recommend you try it for yourself.

    • Olga J
      Ontario, Canada

      I was on Amlodipine 5mg for 3 months, and subsequently lost all my hair. I am told that it will not come back even though I stopped taking the medication. My doctor does not think that that is the cause, but there were no other changes in my life.

  9. Carol S
    Orange Co., California.

    Not only does Amlodipine Besylate cause hair loss, it will also raise your blood sugar. This is bad for borderline diabetics and diabetics. The higher your blood sugar goes the higher the more they will increase the dose of the medication. Three years ago I was put on the latest blood pressure medication. I have never had a reaction to medication in my life but when it came to this high blood pressure medication I began coughing Thought I was going to cough up a lung and come to find out it was the blood pressure medication. Been looking for the name and finally found it “LISINOPRIL” I thought I was going to die from coughing, and when I changed to Amlodipine Besylate I stopped coughing immediately.

    But the bad side is that I lost my memory in gaps, and to this day (3 years later) I still have gaps of memory loss. I can see what I want to say in my mind, and I can go there if given enough time, but it is maddening to begin to say something and then have it gone. It is there if I work for it but other wise there are days when I sit down to the computer and cannot remember what it is I wanted to look for. Changed doctors and hope to get on something else and get beyond elevated blood sugar, loss of memory, loss of hair, inability to sleep very well, and sick of my doctor not listening to me.

  10. charles

    My BP pills is thinning my hair. What can I do to stop it from thinning?

    • Patsy

      I’m a diabetic 2 as well and have been taking Norvasc 10 mg for 32 years along with hydrochlorizide (water pill). I don’t find that the Norvasc has raised my diabetic readings. They’re about the same. Just watch what you eat and walk everyday. It will help you by keeping your AlC number down and keep you away from injecting yourself with insulin. I take metformin twice per day.

  11. Gwen
    Huntsville al

    Been on Atenolol for about a year with hair loss. I thought it was a hair product now I know that it is the bp meds.

  12. Maria

    I can take getting older middle age
    Hair color turning gray
    The high blood meds over 20 years had my hair from
    thickness over time to thin.
    I change the meds because I listen to my doctors alway moving
    from different states,due to husband Career
    This new meds is awful Norvasc plus another even worst begin with Lisino
    I have too have blood meds so Now I will spot false hair
    This run in my family genes so I have to deal with it and I only is 120 pounds.

  13. Donna
    Commerce, GA

    I am 36 years old. I have been taking BP meds for almost 7 yrs now. I was taking Metoprolol with Hydrochlorothiazide. I just recently changed to Norvasc with Hydrochlorothiazide 8 months ago. I noticed my hair thinning before I changed meds. NOW, its horrible. I am scared to even comb it

  14. Iris

    I have been on atenolol for a long time & my hair is thinning out quite a lot, I did check my four high blood pressure tablets & the only one that had that side effect on the sheet was the atenolol. The doctor had a lot of problems finding tablets that agree with me so very reluctant to change to something else. I will have to find other help.
    Thank you for your web site find it very interesting information.

  15. shirley

    I’m 47 I’ve been on amlodipine for several months now at first my hair was thining now its falling out really bad to now I have to wear a wig which I can’t get use to. Why don’t these doctors tell you about these medication before they prescribe them?

    • Tina
      Phoenix Arizona

      Hi Shirly, Did you ever find a blood pressure med that Doesn’t make you hair fall out?

  16. George

    I started taking Diovan and on the second week of treatment I noticed my hair started to fall off, so I stopped taking it. This is the second time a blood pressure medication does this to me. God !! why they dont come out with a better medication. Forgive me but I’d rather have hypertension than being bald.

  17. Toni

    FYI , Your primary doctor will not tell you it’s your blood pressure pill, because you need to take it, I don’t think there is any out there that don’t do this, I hope someone can prove me wrong. Hair loss or cardiovascular disease. Your choice.

  18. MLM

    happened upon the hair loss/Diovan topic last week. This has been happening to me with bare patches appearing recently. Never realized it could be medication related. Primary care dr. did testing he thought might be appropriate & everything came up negative. Do you have any current information on this. All these postings are three years old. MLM, NJ

  19. JF

    I have been taking atenolol for three Yrs after by-pass surgery. I thought my hair loss was due to stress. I now have lost every hair on my body including eyebrows and lashes. I have a call in to my cardiologist. Thanks for the info.

  20. vc

    I have been taking medication for the last thirty years and now I have absolutely no hair as far as I am concerned. I am bald headed. It is the medication. Is there something else available to rectify that problem?

  21. saundra

    Same thing happened to me. Took Lisinopril for three months and out came the hair when I washed it. Changed over to Benicar 20mg (in the same family but not related) and it was good for about six months and then the hair loss started again. It’s getting worse. Plan on getting it cut shorter next week. Asked for a another change in BP meds–lowest dose 5mg Amlodipine–just started taking it.
    Supposedly, it has less effect. The hair does grow back, but it takes time since it comes out in full strands right from the follicle with the little bulb on the end. Anyway, just want you to know that it does grow back but once hair thinning starts again, get rid of the medication. Pester your cardio person–that’s what we pay them for. So, I am starting all over again. And, if this medication doesn’t work, I’ll get another and another and if none of them work, I will just have to do what Dr. Oz says: “Make lifestyle changes and throw your Blood Pressure pills away.” Hang in there. Saundra

    • Jill
      South Africa

      This is so depressing. I have been on Tareg (Valsartin) for 7 weeks and already my normally thick hair is just falling out in handfuls. I cannot help wondering what this drug is doing to my organs internally – kidneys especially. If anyone has found another BP treatment without this side effect, I would like to know please. However, apart from hair loss this present medication is 100% better than Norvasc (amlodipine) which I was unable to tolerate. From other comments it does look as though the hair loss continues unabated, and I had hoped that it may just be a temporary side effect.

      • Patsy

        The hair loss is permanent while taking Norvasc 10 mg per day while taking hydrochlorothiazide. I’ve tried other high blood pressure meds not for long because I was unable to tolerate them. I will continue to take them and just keep my hair short. It’s better than being dead or having a stroke. By the way I’ve been taking Norvasc since I was 26. I’m just about 60 now. Just trying to last as long as possible for my two boys. I it turns out I go bold, I’ll just wear wigs, turbins or hats outside my house. That’s the best I can do. High blood pressure is a disease that we need to take pills for. Northing else works. I’ve tried a few and my last one I ended up in the hospital for two weeks.

        • Denise

          Patsy I agree, I take Norvasc and Lisinopril. When I started Norvasc two years ago, gradually my hair started to thin. It may have started to thin anyway, because of heredity and diabetes and thyroid disease, so I can’t say for sure that the Norvasc is the problem…it could be a coincidence. I will take my meds. and do what I need to do to prevent a stroke or heart attack. I will also add that I am a hairdresser, and this is hard for me. thank you for your input.

  22. Losing It

    This business of hair falling out with various meds is really depressing and discouraging. Why can’t they come up with a blood pressure med or anti-anxiety med that does NOT cause hair to fall out?! Seems the more I try to get blood pressure and atrial fibrillation under control, the more hair is lost, which of course causes stress which causes more hair loss! A vicious circle.

  23. Dolores

    I just put two and two together after reading the above information and comments. I have been losing hair like mad. I was put on Diltiazem about 2 or three years ago. At one time I had so much hair I had to divide it to wash it and could barely see my scalp. Now I have practically no hair and can see my scalp. I cut back on taking the med seven days a week. I get “white coat” reactions when I go to the doctor. Sometimes my pressure is up, not very high, and other times it’s way low, enough for the doctor to comment more than once that maybe I don’t need the med.

    • Tina

      Did you find any blood pressure medication that doesn’t cause hair loss?
      It’s the Damn Pharmacies that know this will happen. They need to come up with one that doesn’t do that..

  24. BZ

    I was on Lisonopril and my hair started falling out by the handful. I knew it was the Lisonopril because that was the only medication I was taking. Had my iodine and iodide tested and found it low so I started taking iodoral and stopped the Lisonopril and my hair stopped falling out. I don’t know if it will grow back. If anyone does, please let me know.

  25. Cindy B.

    I too have thinning hair which I’ve always assumed is just due to hormonal changes. But I recently read somewhere that drinking soymilk can cause hair loss too! Well, I immediately stopped drinking soymilk (though still use a little bit in coffee). This was only about a month ago. Has anyone else heard of soymilk causing hair loss?

  26. M.T.

    I have been on atenolol for years and hair thinning badly. Plus scalp is red. Not sure if their is a connection to that as well.
    Enjoy articles, very informative. Thanks. M.T.

  27. Amy

    Does anyone know if your meds are changed from atenolol if your hair will come back? I have been on atenolol for about 7 years and noticed that my hair was thinning. I even had my pharmacist check side effects but was told that was not a side effect. When your hairdresser tells you that you have about 1/3 of the hair you used to have it is scary! Thanks for the information.

  28. fridawrites

    I have severe alopecia and take atenolol for tachycardia–will any of these other drugs treat tachycardia/regulate heart rhythm some?

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