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What are beta blockers

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How do beta-blockers work?

Beta blockers also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, work by blocking the action of natural substances from binding to beta receptors on nerves at special sites in arteries, on the heart muscle and on some other muscles and organs.

This blocking action prevents the natural substances from narrowing the arteries thus making the heart beat faster. Beta blockers widens the arteries, which in turn slows down the heart and thereby decreases its force of contraction.


Uses of beta blockers

Medical uses of beta blockers are:

Angina pectoris, which is a chest pain or discomfort that occurs due to activity or stress.

Atrial fibrillation, which is a disorder in the heart rhythm.

Cardiac arrhythmia, which is also a problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. The heart beat of a person suffering  from cardiac arrhythmia is either too fast, or too slow, or with an irregular rhythm.

Congestive heart failure

Essential tremor

Glaucoma, which is a set of eye conditions that lead to the damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is instrumental in carrying visual information from the eye to the brain.

Hypertension or high blood pressure

Migraine prophylaxis

Mitral valve prolapse, which is a heart problem in which the valve that separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart does not close properly.

Myocardial infarction or heart attack, during which blood vessels that supply blood to the heart are blocked, preventing enough oxygen from getting to the heart. As a result, the heart muscle dies or are damaged permanently.

Pheochromocytoma, which is a rare tumor of adrenal gland tissue. However, in this case it is used in conjunction with a α-blocker.

Symptomatic control (tachycardia, tremor) in anxiety and hyperthyroidism

Social anxiety disorder and other anxiety disorders.

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Side effects of beta blockers

The common side effects of Beta Blockers are:

  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tiredness
  • Sleep disturbance with nightmares
The other side-effects of Beta blockers include:
  • Wheezing
  • Visual disturbances
  • Skin rashes
  • Dry eyes

Names of common beta-blockers
 
Generic names
Examples of common brand names
acebutolol
Sectral
atenolol
Tenormin
atenolol in combination with calcium-channel blocker
Beta-Adalat, Tenif
bisoprolol
Cardicor, Emcor
carvedilol
Eucardic
celiprolol
Celectol
esmolol
Brevibloc
labetalol
Trandate
metoprolol
Betaloc, Lopresor, Betaloc-SA, Lopressor SR
nadolol
Corgard
nebivolol
Nebilet
oxyprenolol
Trasicor, Slow-Trasicor
pindolol
Visken
propranolol
Inderal, Half-Inderal LA, Inderal-LA
sotalol
Beta-Cardone, Sotacor
timolol
Betim
 

Drug Interaction of beta blockers

Propranolol (Inderal) or pindolol (Visken) in combination with thioridazine (Mellaril) or chlorpromazine (Thorazine) may result in low blood pressure (hypotension) and abnormal heart rhythms

Clonidine (Catapres) in combination with a beta blocker results in dangerous elevations in blood pressure

Phenobarbital and similar agents may reduce the effectiveness of the beta blocker.

Aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (for example, ibuprofen) may reduce the effectiveness of the beta blocker.

Next page: Alpha blockers

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last Modified: June 27, 2013