How Salmeterol Works and Safety Concerns
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking salmeterol if you have:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- A fast heart rate (tachycardia)
- An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Other types of heart disease, including congestive heart failure
- An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
- Seizures or epilepsy
- Any allergies, including allergies to food (especially milk), dyes, or preservatives.
Also let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Serevent and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Serevent and Breastfeeding).
You should also make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Salmeterol for more information on this topic, including information on who should not take salmeterol.)
Normally, air moves easily into and out of the lungs through a network of airways. During an asthma attack, however, the muscles around these airways tighten. This narrows the airways and makes it harder to breathe. This is called bronchospasm.
Salmeterol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic receptor agonists, or beta agonists for short. Beta agonists stimulate beta receptors in the body, including those on the muscles around airways. This stimulation causes the muscles to relax, which opens up the airways and allows more air to get into and through the lungs. Salmeterol is a long-acting beta agonist. Because it does not work as quickly as short-acting beta agonists, it should not be used for treating an asthma attack. Rather, it is used twice a day in order to prevent attacks.
Salmeterol also has some effects on decreasing the activity of mast cells in the lungs, which play an important role in inflammation and allergic reactions.