What Are Beta Blockers?

This important and widely used class of drugs treats several cardiovascular conditions.

Beta blockers are a group of drugs used to lower blood pressure.

They are given to treat or prevent a variety of conditions, including:

High blood pressure
Random heartbeat
Chest pain
Congestive heart failure
Heart attack
Complaints of anxiety

How Do Beta Blockers Work?

Beta blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone adrenaline, also known as epinephrine.

They cause the heart to beat more slowly and with less force, which lowers blood pressure.

They also help to open blood vessels to improve blood flow.

Some types of beta blockers mainly affect the heart. Others affect both the heart and the blood vessels.

Common Beta Blockers

Some commonly recommended beta blockers include:

Sectarian (Akbutol)
Tenormen (atenolol)
Carolyn (Beta Macaulay)
Zebeta and Ziak (bisoptrol)
Corrig (Carvedilol)
Noromedine and Tradit (Labital)
Lopressor and Tiptrol-XL (Metropolis)
Cargard (Nandolol)
Bistolic (nebivolol)
Levatol (penbutol)
Vizikan (Pendolol)
Indender and Indender LA (propranolol)
Blockadrine (timolol)

Side Effects of Beta Blockers

Common side effects of beta blockers include:

Drowsiness or fatigue
Cold hands and feet
Dry mouth, skin or eyes
Stomach upset
Diarrhea or constipation
Less common side effects include:

Shortness of breath
Wheezing or difficulty breathing
Sex drive / penis damage (ED)
Trouble sleeping
Swelling of the hands or feet
Slow heartbeat
Skin rub
Sore throat
Memory or confusion
Back or joint pain

Beta Blocker Precautions

If you have asthma or diabetes, talk to your doctor before taking beta blockers.

These drugs can cause severe asthma attacks and mask the symptoms of low blood sugar.

Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions before starting Beta Blocker.

Also, tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, especially:

Other medicines for high blood pressure
of antidepressants
Drug medications for diabetes (including insulin)
Medications for asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Allergy shots
Antacids that contain aluminum
Over-the-counter (OTC) cough, cold, or allergy medications

Beta Blockers, Alcohol, and Caffeine

Avoid alcohol or caffeinated foods, as these drugs can affect the work of beta blockers in your body.

Beta Blockers and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, or may be pregnant, while taking beta blockers.

Some beta blockers may be safe during pregnancy, while others may be harmful. Discuss the risks and benefits of taking your drug with your doctor.

Also, if you are breastfeeding, talk to your healthcare provider before taking beta blockers.

Beta Blockers and Certain Populations

Beta blockers may not work as well for people of African descent as other ethnic or racial groups. Discuss this potential effect with your doctor.

Most people experience more side effects when taking beta blockers.

If you are over 60, talk to your doctor about this risk.


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