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Medication (name): Beta-blockers  

Common Names  

Examples of beta-blockers include:

  • Metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • Propranolol (Inderal)
  • Atenolol (Tenoretic)
  • Carvedilol (Coreg)
  • Nadolol (Corgard)
  • Labetalol (Trandate)
  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
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Current Uses  

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Treatment  

Beta-blockers may be prescribed if you have:

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Prevention  

Beta-blockers may be prescribed to:

  • Reduce your risk of death from heart attack
  • Protect the heart if you have coronary artery disease
  • Reduce your risk of stroke
  • Protect the heart before surgery if you are at high risk of complications
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Mechanism for How It Works  

Beta-blockers block the effects of adrenaline on your body's beta-receptors. This slows the nerve impulses that travel through the heart. As a result, your heart does not have to work as hard because it needs less blood and oxygen. This decreases heart rate, and blood pressure. Beta-blockers also block the impulses that can cause an arrhythmia.

Beta-blockers generally work by affecting the response to some nerve impulses. Your body has two main beta-receptors: beta 1 and beta 2. Some beta-blockers are selective, which means that they block beta 1 receptors more than they block beta 2 receptors. Beta 1 receptors are responsible for heart rate and the strength of your heartbeat. Nonselective beta-blockers block both beta 1 and beta 2 receptors. Beta 2 receptors are responsible for the function of your smooth muscles (muscles that control body functions but that you do not have voluntary control over).

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Side Effects  

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Drug Interactions  

There are many types of medicines, herbs, and supplements that can affect how beta-blockers work. Since there are many different kinds of beta-blockers, drug interactions will vary depending on the specific medicine that you are prescribed. Before you begin taking a beta-blocker, talk to your doctor about all of the prescription medicines, over-the-counter products, and supplements that you are taking.

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Other Potential Concerns  

If you have certain conditions, you may not be able to take some types of beta-blockers. For example, if you have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), certain beta-blockers may make your symptoms worse. This class of drugs may also affect diabetes, heart block, peripheral arterial disease , and other conditions. If you are pregnant or nursing, it is important to discuss the risks of taking a beta-blockers with your doctor.

Talk to your doctor about your condition and any concerns that you have about taking beta-blockers.

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Side Effects  

Side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Depression