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.

For what conditions are beta blockers used?

  • Beta blockers are used for treating:
  • They also have been found to prevent further heart attacks and death after a heart attack.
  • Other uses include the treatment of hyperthyroidism, akathisia (restlessness or inability to sit still), panic disorder, anxiety, and aggressive behavior.
  • Some beta blockers reduce the production of aqueous humor in the eye and therefore are used for reducing pressure in the eye caused by glaucoma.

Are there any differences among beta blockers?

Beta blockers differ in the type of beta receptors they block and, therefore, their effects.

  • Non-selective beta blockers, for example, propranolol (Inderal), block β1 and β2 receptors and, therefore, affect the heart, blood vessels, and air passages.
  • Selective beta blockers, for example, metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL) primarily block β1 receptors and, therefore, mostly affect the heart and do not affect air passages.
  • Some beta blockers, for example, pindolol (Visken) have intrinsic sympathomimetic activity (ISA), which means they mimic the effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine and can cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Beta blockers with ISA have smaller effects on heart rate than agents that do not have ISA.
  • Labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate) and carvedilol (Coreg) block beta and alpha-1 receptors. Blocking alpha receptors adds to the blood vessel dilating effect of labetalol and carvedilol.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/19/2016

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