Catapres-TTS-3 (Clonidine) - Transdermal

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What Is Catapres-TTS-3 - Transdermal?

Catapres-TTS-3 (clonidine) is a prescription medication often used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). It is available as an extended-release transdermal skin patch that contains clonidine.

Clonidine belongs to a class of medications known as centrally acting alpha‑agonists. It is also called an antihypertensive agent. This medication works by stimulating certain receptors called alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brain. This relaxes the blood vessels to allow blood to flow more easily. As a result, it helps to lower blood pressure.

Drug Facts

  • Generic Name: Clonidine
  • Brand Name(s): Catapres-TTS-3, Catapres-TTS-2, Catapres-TTS-1
  • Administration Route(s): Transdermal
  • Drug Availability: Prescription
  • Therapeutic Classification: Antihypertensive
  • Available Generically: Yes
  • Controlled Substance: N/A
  • Active Ingredient: Clonidine
  • Dosage Form(s): Patch, extended release

What Is Catapres-TTS-3 Used For?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Catapres-TTS-3 for use alone or with other antihypertensive medications to control high blood pressure.

How to Take Catapres-TTS-3

Catapres-TTS-3 is available as a transdermal patch that you apply to the skin once a week, preferably at the same time of day. The patch is designed to deliver the drug into your body through the skin for a full week.

When applying Catapres-TTS-3, put the patch on a hairless area of the body, such as the upper, outer arm or upper chest. After removing a patch, make sure to choose a different location on your body for the next patch. For full application instructions, review the patient instructions that come with your medication.

This medication helps to control your high blood pressure, but will not cure it. You must continue to use it as directed by your healthcare provider.

Storage

Store Catapres-TTS-3 at a controlled room temperature, which is about 68 F to 77 F. Don’t leave the patches in your car, especially if the weather is going to be very cold or hot.

What Are the Side Effects of Catapres-TTS-3?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 1-800-FDA-1088.

Like most medications, Catapres-TTS-3 can cause mild or serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects you experience while using it.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling dizzy, tired, or sleepy

Let your healthcare provider know if any of these side effects persist or become more severe.

Severe Side Effects

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Fast, slow, or abnormal heart rate
  • Passing out
  • Burning or redness
  • Allergic reactions (e.g., hives; trouble breathing; swelling of tongue, lips, or mouth)

Report Side Effects

Catapres-TTS-3 may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Catapres-TTS-3 Should I Take?

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The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

For transdermal dosage form (patch):

  • For high blood pressure:
  • Adults—One patch applied once every 7 days. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed.
  • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

People with kidney impairment may need a lower initial dose of this medication and careful monitoring by a healthcare professional. 

Additionally, people aged 65 years or older often process drugs more slowly. They might need a lower dose or a different schedule.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Catapres-TTS-3, put on the missed patch as soon as you think about it after taking off the old one. If it is almost time for the next scheduled patch, then you should skip the patch you missed. Do not apply extra to make up for the missed dose. Doing so can increase your risk for side effects.

Overdose: What Happens If I Use Too Much Catapres-TTS-3?

Overexposure to clonidine can cause your blood pressure to drop too low. This can make you feel faint or dizzy.

If you have symptoms of poisoning following skin exposure, remove all clonidine transdermal patches. After removal, clonidine levels will start to lower slowly over several days.

What Happens If I Overdose on Catapres-TTS-3?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed from Catapres-TTS-3, call a healthcare provider or Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222).

If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Precautions

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It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for any unwanted effects.

Do not interrupt or stop using this medicine without first checking with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are using before stopping it completely. Your blood pressure may become worse when the medicine is stopped suddenly, which can cause serious side effects.

Make sure that you have enough clonidine transdermal on hand to last through weekends, holidays, or vacations. You should not miss any doses. You may want to ask your doctor for a second written prescription for clonidine to carry in your wallet or purse. You can have it filled if you run out of medicine when you are away from home.

You may have some skin redness, a rash, itching, or blistering at the place where you wear the patch. If this irritation is severe or does not go away, call your doctor. Do not remove the patch unless your doctor tells you to.

Before having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery) or emergency treatment, tell the medical doctor or dentist in charge that you are using this medicine.

Before having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, tell the doctor in charge that you are using this medicine. Skin burns may occur at the site where the patch is worn during this procedure. Ask your doctor if the patch should be removed before having an MRI scan. You might need to put on a new patch after the procedure.

Clonidine transdermal may cause some people to become drowsy or less alert than they are normally. This is more likely to happen when you begin to use it or when you increase the amount of medicine you are using. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.

Clonidine transdermal will add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants. CNS depressants are medicines that slow down the nervous system and may cause drowsiness. Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for hay fever, allergies, or colds; sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine; prescription pain medicine or narcotics; barbiturates or medicine for seizures; muscle relaxants; or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the above while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may cause dryness of the eyes. If you wear contact lenses, this may be a problem for you. Talk to your doctor if you wear contact lenses, and discuss how to treat the dryness.

Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur after you use this medicine, especially when you get up suddenly from a lying or sitting position. Getting up slowly may help, but if the problem continues or gets worse, check with your doctor.

The dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting is also more likely to occur if you drink alcohol, stand for long periods of time, exercise, or if the weather is hot. While you are using clonidine, be careful to limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Also, use extra care during exercise or hot weather or if you must stand for a long time.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements. You should avoid over-the-counter [OTC] medicines for appetite control, asthma, colds, cough, hay fever, or sinus problems, since they may tend to increase your blood pressure.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Catapres-TTS-3?

There are several reasons why your healthcare provider may not choose Catapres-TTS-3 as part of your treatment plan, such as:

  • Allergy: A person should not take Catapres-TTS-3 if they are allergic to the ingredients.
  • Pregnancy: Only use clonidine during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. It is best to talk to your provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, so they can decide the best option for you.
  • Breastfeeding: Clonidine does pass into human milk. Talk with your provider if you are breastfeeding, as you may need to decide if you should stop using this medication or stop breastfeeding.
  • Age: Catapres-TTS-3 is not indicated for use in children

Additionally, in certain individuals, the body may handle Catapres-TTS-3 differently. Inform your healthcare provider if you have:

What Other Medications Interact With Catapres-TTS-3?

Catapres-TTS-3 can interact with several medications, including:

  • Calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine, diltiazem, verapamil)
  • Beta blockers (e.g., propranolol, acebutolol)
  • Barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital) 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, nortriptyline)

If you take calcium channel blockers or beta blockers with Catapres-TTS-3, your healthcare provider may monitor your heart rate. Using clonidine along with medication such as diltiazem or verapamil has caused sinus bradycardia, a type of slow heartbeat, resulting in hospitalization.

Catapres-TTS-3 can increase the central nervous system depressive effects of alcohol, barbiturates, and other sedating drugs. You should not take these substances together.

Tricyclic antidepressants can reduce the blood pressure-lowering effects of clonidine. Your provider may need to increase your dose of Catapres-TTS-3 if you take these medications.

This list does not include all drugs that can interact with clonidine. Before using Catapres-TTS-3, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all of the prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs you are taking. This will help you avoid potential interactions.

Speak with your provider if you have any questions about drug interactions.

What Medications Are Similar?

There are a few other classes of medications used to treat high blood pressure, such as diuretics, beta blockers, or angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. 

Medications that are similar to clonidine include: 

  • Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Zestril (lisinopril)
  • Tenormin (atenolol)

Microzide

Hydrochlorothiazide oral tablets are part of the class of medications known as thiazide diuretics. This medication is often prescribed to treat high blood pressure, as well as swelling from heart failure and kidney disease.

Zestril

Lisinopril oral tablets are part of a class of medications known as ACE inhibitors. This medication is often prescribed to treat high blood pressure, as well as heart failure and heart attacks.

One notable warning with ACE inhibitors is the risk for angioedema. Angioedema is the rapid swelling of the deep layers of the skin, often around the face and lips, and can be a very serious reaction.

Tenormin 

Atenolol oral tablets are part of a class of medications known as beta blockers. This medication is often prescribed to treat high blood pressure, angina pectoris (chest pain or discomfort due to coronary heart disease), or heart attack.

People with diabetes must be cautious with beta blocker use. Beta blockers have the potential to mask the effects of low blood sugar, which could lead to dangerous effects for someone with diabetes.

Treatment for high blood pressure may include one or more medications. Speak with your provider about what medication or combination of medications might be best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Catapres-TTS-3 used for?

    Catapres-TTS-3 is a transdermal patch that is often prescribed for high blood pressure. To use it, apply a patch once a week, preferably at the same time of day. 

    Once the old patch is removed and discarded, apply a new patch to a different location on the body.

  • How does Catapres-TTS-3 work?

    Clonidine is a centrally acting alpha-agonist. This means it works by stimulating the alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brain. This action results in a lowering of your heart rate and blood pressure.

  • What are the side effects of Catapres-TTS-3?

    The most common side effects of Catapres-TTS-3 include skin irritation, headache, feeling dizzy, or dry mouth. There is also the potential for serious side effects such as an allergic reaction (e.g., hives; swelling of the tongue, lips, or mouth; or trouble breathing). Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Catapres-TTS-3?

Catapres-TTS-3 is a safe and effective medication when used correctly. 

While Catapres-TTS-3 does have the potential for serious side effects such as allergic reactions or abnormal heart rate, the most common side effects tend to be mild. Those might include headaches, dry mouth, or skin irritation.

It is important to inform your healthcare provider of all of your other health conditions, as well as any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs you are taking. This way your provider is able to make the best decision about what medication and what dose is safe and works best for you.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for education purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your doctor before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. DailyMed. Catapres-TTS- clonidine patch. Updated April 2021.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP. Updated May 2011.

  3. Food and Drug Administration, Zestril (lisinopril). Updated December 2014.