GENERIC NAME: propranolol
BRAND NAMES: Hemangeol, Inderal, Inderal XL, Inderal LA, Innopran XL
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Propranolol is a beta-adrenergic blocking agent that is used for treating high blood pressure, heart pain (angina), abnormal rhythms of the heart, and some neurologic conditions. Examples of other beta-adrenergic blockers include metoprolol (Lopressor), atenolol (Tenormin), and timolol (Blocadren).
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that are produced and released by nerves in order to communicate with each other. The released neurotransmitters attach to receptors on other cells and induce changes within the receptor-containing cells. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is used by the sympathetic nervous system, a portion of the involuntary nervous system. Nerves of the sympathetic nervous system release norepinephrine that binds to beta receptors on other cells. Propranolol inhibits the sympathetic nervous system by blocking the beta receptors on the nerves of the sympathetic system. Since stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for increasing the rate with which the heart beats, by blocking the action of these nerves propranolol reduces the heart rate and is useful in treating abnormally rapid heart rhythms.
Propranolol also reduces the force of contraction of heart muscle and thereby lowers blood pressure. By reducing the heart rate and the force of muscle contraction, propranolol reduces the need for oxygen by heart muscle. Since heart pain (angina pectoris) occurs when oxygen demand of the heart muscle exceeds the supply of oxygen, propranolol, by reducing the demand for oxygen, is helpful in treating heart pain. The FDA approved propranolol in November 1967.
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