What are beta Blockers & who should take them?-Dr Harold Gunatillake

What are beta Blockers & who should take them?-Dr Harold Gunatillake

Dr Harold Gunatillake



Suppose you suffer from high blood pressure and find your pulse rapid or irregular. In that case, your doctor will put you on a beta-blocker with other antihypertensive medication to protect the heart from a second heart attack after a first heart attack.

They are also called adrenergic blocking agents that reduce blood pressure. They work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine, also known as adrenaline.

Now, what is the function of adrenaline in your body?

Adrenaline is a hormone released from the adrenal glands that sit on your kidneys. When you are stressed, or in frightful situations, the adrenaline level in your blood is raised. That makes your heart beat faster, and your lungs breathe more efficiently. It helps your body react quickly.

Beta-blockers seem to slow down this action and keep your heart working within the normal range, bringing down the blood pressure.

These heart slowing drugs are called beta-blockers because they block the Beta-1 receptors predominantly found in the heart, kidneys, and fat cells.

The drugs that belong to the category of beta-blockers are: Acebutolol Atenolol (Tenormin)

Bisoprolol (Zebeta)

Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL) Nadolol (Corgard)

Nebivolol (Bystolic)

Propranolol (Inderal, InnoPran XL)

If you are on any of these drugs, this talk will help you understand how they work for you and the possible side effects.

They are not prescribed for high blood pressure as a first treatment in people who have only high blood pressure. Beta-blockers aren’t usually prescribed for high blood pressure unless other medications, such as diuretics, haven’t worked well. Also, a doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker as one of several medications to lower blood pressure.

In uncomplicated high blood pressure, the drugs of choice your doctor will prescribe are ACE inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers, which I have discussed in a previous YouTube.

Beta-blockers are prescribed with amlodipine or nifedipine drugs classified as calcium channel blockers. These act by affecting the movement of calcium into the cells of the heart and blood vessels. They relax the blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and increase the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart while reducing its workload.

When excess calcium accumulates in the blood and is combined with cholesterol, it has a devastating effect on human health. It forms plaque that adheres to the walls of arteries. These deposits can cause partial or complete blockage. It also hardens the walls of the street.

So, remember that Calcium channel blockers relax the smooth muscles of your heart and the blood vessels and bring down the blood pressure.

Your doctor may have prescribed a calcium channel blocker with other antihypertensive drugs for your high blood pressure.

As said before, beta-blockers are used with calcium channel blockers; certain varieties are not advised. For example, verapamil beta-blocker will not be given with diltiazem calcium channel blocker.

Please check your combined therapy for high blood pressure, and if you are on the above- combined medication, you need to clarify with your doctor.

In summary- beta-blockers are used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat like atrial fibrillation, help prevent future heart attacks and strokes and prevent chest pain caused by angina.

All beta-blocker drugs are used in addition to lowering your blood pressure to treat anxiety. Propanolol or Inderal is the drug that has been most studied for anxiety. Atenolol or Tenormin, or metoprolol are the other beta-blocker prescribed for anxiety.

Beta-blockers are given to treat the overactive thyroid gland. Propanolol or Inderal is the most popular beta-blocker for the over-active thyroid gland.

These drugs are not prescribed if your blood pressure is low or in heart failure, diabetes, liver and kidney problems.

You must never take any beta-blocker if you have asthma, are pregnant mothers and when breastfeeding.

Beta-blockers like propranolol are prescribed for migraine headaches. Now let’s discuss the side effects of beta-blockers.

Commonly reported side effects are feeling tired, dizzy or lightheaded (these can be signs of a slow heart rate)

cold fingers or toes (beta-blockers may affect the blood supply to your hands and feet) difficulties sleeping or nightmares.

Those who take beta-blockers are more prone to get chilblains during the winter months. Long term side effects include disorientation, short-term memory loss, emotional lability (rapid, extreme changes in mood), inability to concentrate or think clearly,

Weight gain is a side effect of beta-blockers.

Certain foods you need to avoid when you are on beta-blockers.

Caffeinated foods and beverages, including coffee, energy drinks, energy bars, and certain sodas, can also interact with beta-blockers by slowing down how fast your body metabolises them. This can cause the medication to stay active in your body for longer.

It is dangerous to stop taking beta-blockers suddenly, even if you are experiencing side effects. When you take beta-blockers, your body gets used to your heart’s slower speed. If you stop taking them suddenly, you could increase your risk of a severe heart problem, such as a heart attack.

So, viewers, I hope this video presentation was helpful. It is essential to know the workings of the medications in your body that you take prescribed by your doctor, a more rational way of treating your medical issues.

Stay safe and suitable. Bye for now.


The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and whilst the author will endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, eLanka makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the eLanka website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this article for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In otherwords, eLanka In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website / article. Also please note that through this website / web page articles you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of eLanka and therefore we have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

Comments are closed.