Beta Blockers

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What are beta blockers and how do they work?

Beta blockers, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are drugs that block norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline) from binding to beta receptors on nerves. Norephinephrine and epinephrine are produced by nerves throughout the body as well as by the adrenal gland. They serve as neurotransmitters (chemicals that nerves use to communicate with one another ) that may be active locally where they are produced, or elsewhere in the body, when they are released into the blood. There are both alpha and beta receptors in the body. There are three types of beta receptors and they control several different functions based on their location in the body.

  1. beta-1 (β1) receptors are located in the heart, eye, and kidneys;
  2. beta (β2) receptors are found in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver, uterus, blood vessels, and skeletal muscle; and
  3. beta (β3) receptors are located in fat cells.

Beta blockers primarily block β1 and β2 receptors and thereby the effects of norepinephrine and epinephrine. By blocking the effects of norepinephrine and epinephrine, beta blockers reduce heart rate; reduce blood pressure by dilating blood vessels; and may constrict air passages by stimulating the muscles that surround the air passages to contract considered an adverse side effect).

What are some examples of beta blockers?

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/19/2016

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