(check with manufacturer for specific information)
Commonly prescribed brands:
How they are given:
What they are used for:
You should not be treated with them if:
Possible side effects:
How do beta blockers work?
Beta blockers reduce the workload of the heart by slowing the heart rate and reducing the force of the heartbeat. This reduces the force with which blood is pushed through the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure. Beta blockers also cause the arteries in the legs and arms to narrow, causing less blood to flow through your limbs. This is why some patients who take beta blockers have cold hands and feet, and are generally more sensitive to cold.
Who should take beta blockers?
Beta blockers are used to treat a wide variety of heart conditions in addition to high blood pressure, including chest pain ( angina), heart attack, heart failure, and heart rhythm problems. They are also given to people who undergo bypass surgery. They are usually the first choice drug to treat patients who:
- have high blood pressure and stable chest pain
- have unstable angina (chest pain that may occur at rest)
- have had a heart attack
Beta blockers are often prescribed in combination with ACE inhibitors.8
What side effects do beta blockers have?
Since beta blockers can lead to a dangerously slow heartbeat, you will probably be started on a low dose, gradually increasing. The most common side effects of beta blockers are slow heart rate, dizziness, increased tiredness, and sensitivity to cold. As with any medication, do not stop taking it without consulting your doctor. Patients who suddenly stop taking beta blockers could increase their risk of having a heart attack.
Because one of the risks of beta blockers is low heart rate, patients taking them should measure their heart rate periodically. Your doctor will show you how to do this. You should let him or her know if your heart rate is lower than usual or if it is below 50 beats per minute.