Alternative medicine (1)
- Herbal supplements may not mix with heart medicines
Lifestyle and home remedies (10)
- Sample menus for the DASH eating plan
- DASH diet: Tips for shopping and cooking
- DASH diet: Tips for dining out
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- Symptom Checker
Tests and diagnosis (3)
- Blood pressure chart: What your reading means
- Microalbumin test
- Blood pressure test
Treatments and drugs (9)
- Beta blockers
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers
- Calcium channel blockers
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Uses for beta blockers
Doctors prescribe beta blockers to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in a variety of conditions, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Heart failure
- Chest pain (angina)
- Heart attacks
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Certain types of tremors
Beta blockers aren't usually prescribed until other blood pressure medications, such as diuretics, haven't worked effectively. Your doctor may prescribe beta blockers as one of several medications to lower your blood pressure, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, diuretics or calcium channel blockers.
Beta blockers may not work as effectively for blacks as for people of other races, especially when taken without other blood pressure medications.
Side effects and cautions
Side effects may occur in people taking beta blockers. However, many people who take beta blockers won't have any side effects.
Common side effects of beta blockers include:
- Cold hands
- Upset stomach
Less common side effects include:
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of sex drive
Beta blockers generally aren't used in people with asthma because of concerns that the medication may trigger severe asthma attacks. In people who have diabetes, beta blockers may block signs of low blood sugar, such as rapid heartbeat. It's important to monitor your blood sugar on a regular basis.
Beta blockers can also affect your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, causing a slight increase in triglycerides and a modest decrease in high-density lipoprotein, the "good" cholesterol. These changes often are temporary. You shouldn't abruptly stop taking a beta blocker because doing so could increase your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems.Previous page
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- Flynn JT. Treatment of high blood pressure: Drug therapy. In: Kaplan NM, et al. Kaplan's Clinical Hypertension. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2010:192.
- Types of blood pressure medications. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Types-of-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303247_Article.jsp. Accessed Sept. 30, 2010.
- High blood pressure: Medicines to help you. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/byaudience/forwomen/ucm118594.htm. Accessed Sept. 30, 2010.
- Kaplan NM, et al. Indications and contraindications to the use of specific antihypertensive drugs. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 30, 2010.
- Chobanian AV, et al. The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. New England Journal of Medicine. 2003;289:2560.