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- What are beta blockers and how do they work?
- List of examples of brand and generic names for beta blockers available?
- What are the side effects of beta blockers?
- What diseases and conditions do beta blockers treat (uses)?
- Are there differences amongst the beta blockers available?
- Which drugs and supplements interact with beta blockers?
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. Norepinephrine 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.
- beta-1 (β1) receptors are located in the heart, eye, and kidneys.
- beta (β2) receptors are found in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, liver, uterus, blood vessels, and skeletal muscle.
- 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).
List of examples of brand and generic names for beta blockers available?
- acebutolol (Sectral)
- atenolol (Tenormin)
- betaxolol (Kerlone)
- betaxolol (Betoptic S)
- bisoprolol fumarate (Zebeta)
- carteolol (Cartrol, discontinued)
- carvedilol (Coreg)
- esmolol (Brevibloc)
- labetalol (Trandate [Normodyne - discontinued])
- metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
- nadolol (Corgard)
- nebivolol (Bystolic)
- penbutolol (Levatol)
- pindolol (Visken, discontinued)
- propranolol (Hemangeol, Inderal LA, Inderal XL, InnoPran XL)
- sotalol (Betapace, Sorine)
- timolol (Blocadren, discontinued)
- timolol ophthalmic solution (Timoptic, Betimol, Istalol)
What are the side effects of beta blockers?
Beta blockers may cause:
Other important side effects include:
As an extension of their beneficial effect, they slow heart rate and reduce blood pressure, but they may cause adverse effects such as heart failure or heart block in patients with heart problems.
Beta blockers should not be withdrawn suddenly because sudden withdrawal may worsen angina (chest pain) and cause heart attacks, serious abnormal heart rhythms, or sudden death.
- Central nervous system effects of beta blockers include:
Beta blockers that block β2 receptors may cause shortness of breath in asthmatics.
As with other drugs used for treating high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction may occur.
Other serious side effects of beta-blockers include:
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Raynaud's phenomenon
- Lupus erythematosus
- Serious allergic reactions
- Erythema multiform
- Steven Johnson Syndrome
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
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What diseases and conditions do beta blockers treat (uses)?
- 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 differences amongst the beta blockers available?
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.
Which drugs and supplements interact with beta blockers?
- Combining propranolol (Inderal) or pindolol (Visken) with thioridazine (Mellaril) or chlorpromazine (Thorazine) may result in low blood pressure (hypotension) and abnormal heart rhythms because the drugs interfere with each other's elimination and result in increased levels of the drugs.
- Dangerous elevations in blood pressure may occur when clonidine (Catapres) is combined with a beta blocker, or when clonidine or beta blocker is discontinued after their concurrent use. Blood pressure should be closely monitored after initiation or discontinuation of clonidine or a beta blocker when they have been used together.
- Phenobarbital and similar agents may increase the breakdown and reduce blood levels of propanolol (Inderal) or metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL). This may reduce effectiveness of the beta blocker.
- Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (for example, ibuprofen) may counteract the blood pressure reducing effects of beta blockers by reducing the effects of prostaglandins, which play a role in control of blood pressure.
- Beta blockers may prolong hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and mask symptoms of hypoglycemia in diabetics who are taking insulin or other diabetic medications.
Beta blockers are a class of drugs that block beta-adrenergic substances such as adrenaline (epinephrine), a key agent in the "sympathetic" portion of the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system and activation of heart muscle. By blocking the action of the involuntary nervous system on the heart, beta blockers relieve stress on the heart.
Beta blockers are used for the treatment of irregular heart rhythms, chest pain, heart attack, hypertension, migraine headaches, social phobias, tremors, and glaucoma.
Common side effects of beta blockers are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and weight gain if you are taking medicine for diabetes (type 1 and type 2). There are other important side effects and serious adverse effects of this drug class that include, blurred vision, insomnia, hair loss, disorientation, CNS system effects, and serious heart problems.
Beta blockers interact with several other drugs, for example, chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clonidine (Catapres), Phenobarbital, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including aspirin, and diabetes medications, including insulin.
Examples of generic and brand names available for beta blockers in the US include acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Zebeta), metoprolol (Lopressor, Lopressor LA, Toprol XL), nadolol (Corgard), timolol (Blocadren). Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other medical professional if you have questions about beta-blockers.
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12 Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Symptoms, Stages, Causes, and Life Expectancy
Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, myocarditis, and cardiomyopathies are just a few potential causes of congestive heart failure. Signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure may include fatigue, breathlessness, palpitations, angina, and edema. Physical examination, patient history, blood tests, and imaging tests are used to diagnose congestive heart failure. Treatment of heart failure consists of lifestyle modification and taking medications to decrease fluid in the body and ease the strain on the heart. The prognosis of a patient with congestive heart failure depends on the stage of the heart failure and the overall condition of the individual.
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High Blood Pressure Treatment (Natural Home Remedies, Diet, Medications)
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Angina (Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment)
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Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
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Peyronie's Disease (Curvature of the Penis)
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Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs, PVC)
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Atrial Flutter (Symptoms, Causes, ECG, and Treatments)
Atrial flutter is a problem with the atria of the heart. In atrial flutter the atria of the heart rapidly and repeatedly beat due to an anomaly in the electrical system of the heart. It is a type of arrhythmia and can be dangerous because complications can develop easily. Signs and symptoms of atrial flutter include near fainting, palpitations, mild shortness of breath, and fatigue. While the exact cause of atrial flutter is not clearly understood, it's most likely related to your health, what medical conditions you certainly have, poor diet, lack of exercise, and drinking too much alcohol. Atrial flutter is diagnosed by physical examination, medical history, and a sawtooth ECG wave pattern.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a ballooning or widening of the main artery (the aorta) as it courses down through the abdomen. Most abdominal aortic aneurysms produce no symptoms. Treatment may include observation or surgical repair.
Palpitations (Causes and Symptoms)
Palpitations are uncomfortable sensations of the heart beating hard, rapidly, or irregularly. Some types of palpitations are benign, while others are more serious. Palpitations are diagnosed by taking the patient history and by performing an EKG or heart monitoring along with blood tests. An electrophysiology study may also be performed. Treatment of palpitations may include lifestyle changes, medication, ablation, or implantation of a pacemaker. The prognosis if palpitations depends on the underlying cause.
Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Heart Rhythm Disorders)
Heart rhythm disorders vary from minor palpitations, premature atrial contractions (PACs), premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), sinus tachycardia, and sinus brachycardia, to abnormal heart rhythms such as tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, ventricular flutter, atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT), Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome, brachycardia, or heart blocks. Treatment is dependent upon the type of heart rhythm disorder.
Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT)
Paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT) is an abnormal conduction of electricity in particular areas of the heart. PSVT was referred to at one time as paroxysmal atrial tachycardia or PAT, however, the term PAT is reserved for as specific heart condition. Symptoms of PSVT include weakness, shortness of breath, chest pressure, lightheadedness, and palpitations. PSVT is treated with medications or procedures that return the heart to its normal electrical pattern.
Phobias are unrelenting fears of activities (social phobias), situations (agoraphobia), and specific items (arachnophobia). There is thought to be a hereditary component to phobias, though there may be a cultural influence or they may be triggered by life events. Symptoms and signs of phobias include having a panic attack, shaking, breathing troubles, rapid heartbeat, and a strong desire to escape the situation. Treatment of phobias typically involves desensitization, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and beta-blockers.
Atrial Flutter vs. Atrial Fibrillation (What Are the Differences?)
Atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation (AFib) are two types of a heart problem called atrial tachycardia. Both of these conditions involve the heart's electrical activity, but they are not the same disease. Both diseases are serious and need medical treatment. Common symptoms of these diseases are similar and include: Fatigue Blurry vision Lightheadedness Palpitations Feeling like you may faint Serious symptoms of both conditions are similar and include: Fainting Sweating Severe shortness of breath Chest pain Atrial flutter and AFib are heart conditions that require medical diagnosis (ECG) and treatment by a doctor or other medical health-care professional.
Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. A person experiencing a panic attack may believe that he or she is having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror that a person experiences during a panic attack are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them. Most people with panic attacks experience several of the following symptoms: racing heartbeat, faintness, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, chills, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of loss or control. There are several treatments for panic attacks.
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib, AF)
Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is an abnormality in the heart rhythm, which involves irregular and often rapid beating of the heart. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Atrial fibrillation treatment may include medication or procedures like cardioversion or ablation to normalize the heart rate.
Aortic dissection is a small tear in the large blood vessel that leads from the heart and supplies blood to the body. There are two types of aortic dissection, type 1 and type 2. Signs and symptoms of aortic dissection include a tearing or ripping pain, nausea, sweating, weakness, shortness of breath, sweating, or fainting. Treatment depends on the type of aortic dissection, and the severity of the tear in the aorta.
Atrial Fibrillation vs. Ventricular Fibrillation (AFib vs VFib Symptoms, ECG Strips)
Atrial fibrillation (AF or AFib) is an abnormality in the heart rhythm which involves irregular and often rapid beating of the heart. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, dizziness, fainting, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Atrial fibrillation treatment may include medication or procedures like cardioversion or ablation to normalize the heart rate. Atrial fibrillation (AFib) and ventricular fibrillation (VFib) are problems with the heart that cause abnormal heart rhythms. Causes of these heart conditions include, heart disease, drugs and medications, excessive alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, advancing age, a diet that contains high levels of animal meat (fat), high blood pressure, stress, stimulants like caffeine, nicotine. Ventricular fibrillation is the more serious of the conditions because if it isn't treated immediately the person will likely die. Symptoms of AFib are confusion, anxiety, fatigue, a fluttering in the chest, and the feeling that you may pass out or faint. Atrial fibrillation is treated with medications, cardioversion therapy, and surgery. If a person with ventricular fibrillation does not seek medical help immediately they will mostly likely suffer from sudden cardiac arrest or sudden death.
Atrial Fibrillation (AFib) Treatment Drugs
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a heart rhythm disorder that causes irregular and often rapid heartbeat. The medications to treat AFib include beta-blockers, blood thinners, and heart rhythm drugs. Atrial fibrillation drugs can cause serious side effects like seizures, vision changes, shortness of breath, fainting, other abnormal heart rhythms, excessive bleeding while coughing or vomiting, blood in the stool, and bleeding into the brain.
Portal hypertension is most commonly caused by cirrhosis, a disease in which results from scarring of a liver injury. Other causes of portal hypertension include: blood clots in the portal vein, blockages of the veins that carry the blood from the liver to the heart, and a parasitic infection called schistosomiasis. Symptoms of portal hypertension include: varices (enlarged veins), vomiting blood and blood in the stool. black, tarry stool, ascites (abnormal fluid collection within the peritoneum, the sac that contains the intestines within the abdominal cavity), confusion and lethargy, splenomegaly or enlargement of the spleen, and decreased white blood cell counts.
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack involves damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to a blood clot. The aim of heart attack treatment is to prevent or stop this damage to the heart muscle. Heart attack treatments included medications, procedures, and surgeries to protect the heart muscle against injury.
Dry eyes are caused by an imbalance in the tear-flow system of the eye, but also can be caused by the drying out of the tear film. This can be due to dry air created by air conditioning, heat, or other environmental conditions. Treatment may involve self-care measures, medications, or rarely, surgery.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being outside or of being in a situation from which escape would be impossible. Symptoms include anxiety, fear, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, or dizziness. Treatment may incorporate psychotherapy, self-exposure to the anxiety-causing situation, and medications such as SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers.
Varices are dilated blood vessels usually in the esophagus or stomach. Symptoms of bleeding varices include vomiting blood, black stools, low blood pressure, shock, and rapid heart rate. Bleeding varices are a medical emergency. Treatment may involve liver transplant, devascularization, distal splenorenal shunt, banding, sclerotherapy, or transjugular intrahepatic protosystemic shunt.
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) affects many people today. Many people with HCM have no symptoms or only minor symptoms, and live a normal life. Other people develop symptoms, which progress and worsen as heart function worsens.
Restrictive cardiomyopathy, the rarest form of cardiomyopathy, is a condition in which the walls of the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) are abnormally rigid and lack the flexibility to expand as the ventricles fill with blood. The pumping or systolic function of the ventricle may be normal but the diastolic function (the ability of the heart to fill with blood) is abnormal. Therefore, it is harder for the ventricles to fill with blood, and with time, the heart loses the ability to pump blood properly, leading to heart failure.
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management. Symptoms of heart attack in men and women include chest discomfort and pain in the shoulder, neck, jaw, stomach, or back. Women experience the same symptoms as men; however, they also may experience: Extreme fatigue Pain in the upper abdomen Dizziness Fainting Leading a healthy lifestyle with a heart healthy low-fat diet, and exercise can help prevent heart disease and heart attack.
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- Do Angioplasty Patients Really Need Beta-Blocker Drugs?
- Can Drugmakers Buy Doctors' Loyalty With Cheap Meals?
- Updated Heart Failure Treatment Guidelines Issued
- Vitamin D Boosts Heart Function in Study
- Brain Scans Give Clues to Stress-Heart Attack Link
- Drugs May Protect the Heart During Chemotherapy
- Seniors: The New Face of Addiction
- Angioplasty May Not Boost Survival for Some Heart Disease Patients
- Heart Patients Worldwide Missing Out on Key Drugs
- Younger Women Less Likely to Take Meds After Heart Attack
- Some Blood Pressure Drugs May Be Risky for Certain Surgery Patients
- Health Tip: Things That Affect Your Heart Rate
- Taking Blood Pressure Drugs at Night May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
- Study: Lowering Beta-Blocker Dose May Boost Survival After Heart Attack
- Knee, Hip Replacement Surgeries Linked to Heart Risks
- Blood Pressure Drugs Linked to Longer Ovarian Cancer Survival
- Entresto Approved for Heart Failure
- Heart Drug Digoxin May Not Be Best for Some Heart Patients
- Treating Irregular Heartbeat With Digoxin May Come With Risks
- Is Obesity an Advantage After Heart Procedures?
- High Blood Pressure May Up Psoriasis Risk for Women
- Study Questions Use of Beta Blockers Before Heart Bypass Surgery
- Blood Pressure Drugs Help Keep Heart Trouble at Bay: FDA
- Minority Patients Less Likely to Stick With Heart Attack Meds: Study
- Green Tea May Interfere With a Blood Pressure Medicine
- Efforts to Improve Intensive-Care Outcomes Produce Mixed Results
- Number of Nerve Fibers Near Prostate Tumor Tied to Aggressiveness
- Drugs Can Sometimes Prevent Migraines, but at a Cost
- Common Heart Meds May Boost Recovery From Non-Cardiac Surgeries
- Higher Heart Rate Tied to Earlier Death, Even in Fit People
- Injected 'Hydrogel' May Help Repair Failing Hearts
- Common Heart Drug Might Improve Lung Cancer Survival
- Blood Pressure Drug May Lower Alzheimer's Risk
- Fainting Spells Often Tied to Too Many Meds at Once: Study
- Melatonin May Improve Sleep for People on Blood-Pressure Meds
- Many Heart Attacks May Go Unrecognized in Seniors
- 2 Common Blood Pressure Meds Fare Equally in Preventing Heart Woes
- High Blood Pressure May Protect Some Frail Elderly: Study
- Scientists Spot More Migraine Genes
- Common Blood Pressure Drugs May Not Cut Colon Cancer Risk
- Role of Screening, Monitoring in Early Kidney Disease Unclear
- Heart Failure Death Risk Lower for Women
- Treatment Advances Improve the Odds for Heart Failure Patients
- Insect Stings Hold Deadly Risk for Some
- Underused Treatments Could Save Lives From Heart Failure
Heart Health Resources
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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA Prescribing Information.
Harvard Health Publications; Harvard Medical School. "Ask the doctor: Beta blockers and alcohol." Sep 2013.