Beta-blockers: what they are, what they are for, uses and side effects

What are beta-blockers and how do they work?

The beta-blockers come to be widely used medications in various and different cardiovascular diseases, since as we will see in detail throughout this article, they act by counteracting the effect of adrenalin about the organism. From a medical point of view, they are also known as "beta-adrenergic blocking agents".

That is, they block the different effects of a hormone known medically as epinephrine, which is popularly also known as "adrenaline." Adrenaline can be positive when it is not released in excess, since it increases the heart rate, increases the capacity of the respiratory system, expands blood vessels and accelerates the rhythm of breathing.

However, by taking beta-blockers (or beta-blockers), the heart tends to beat much more slowly, with less force, which helps reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow by opening blood vessels. For this reason, Beta-blockers are used mostly in the treatment of high blood pressure and migraines.

There is a great variety of types of beta blockers, with various properties and pharmacological virtues, although it is true that its indication when taking them is common to all of them. Among the most used beta-blockers we find sotalol, atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprol (Zebeta), nevibolol (Bystolic), carvedilol and metropol (Toprol-XL, Lopressor). In addition to others such as acebutolol, nadolol and propranolol.

They can be taken in pills orally or by hospital use from intravenous administration.

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What are the principal uses?

Beta-blockers are medically used for different purposes, either to prevent, treat or ameliorate the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases and health disorders. In fact, they are usually used for the following pathologies:

  • Arterial hypertension:Chronic disease in which there is high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart and kidney failure. It is diagnosed when there is a blood pressure of 140/90 or more.
  • Arrhythmia:Disorder of the heart rhythm produced mainly by a malfunction of the coordination of the electrical activity of our heart beats.
  • Insufficiency and heart attack:It occurs when the heart is not able to pump the necessary and adequate amounts of blood to the body. For this reason, it is not capable of supplying the necessary oxygen and nutrients. They are also used in the treatment of heart attack.
  • Angina pectoris:It occurs when there is an insufficient supply of blood to the heart muscle.
  • Migraines:Type of headache that feels like a throbbing pain located only on one side of the head. It is usually accompanied by symptoms such as sensitivity to sound and light, nausea and vomiting.

The main side effects

As with any other medication, beta-blockers or beta-blockers can cause a series of side effects that should be known by all those who will start a medical treatment based on these types of drugs.

For example, once medical treatment has been initiated, beta-blockers can cause vomiting and nausea, fatigue, headache, sleep disturbances and bronchoconstriction.

In turn, as medical treatment progresses over time, it can also cause hypoglycaemia in insulin-dependent diabetic patients, a slight increase in triglycerides and a minimum decrease in HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, hypotension, atrioventricular block, bradycardia and heart failure.

On the other hand, it is known that, in the long term, beta-blockers can cause depression and certain circulatory problems in the extremities, as well as impotence in men.

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What benefits do they offer?

Numerous studies carried out clinically for years, have demonstrated the benefits of beta blockers, as well as its efficacy in patients with heart failure and ischemic heart disease, preventing sudden death and reducing in turn ventricular arrhythmias and, therefore, the probability of suffering a heart attack.

In particular, beta-blockers can be really useful in cases of ischemic heart disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, tachyarrhythmias and arterial hypertension.

Of course, beta-blockers are contraindicated in cases of decompensated heart failure with signs of low expenditure and / or pulmonary congestion, disturbances in the electrical conduction system of the heart, bronchial disease, asthma, or symptomatic low blood pressure, among others. CONSULTED MEDICAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Beta-blockers use for hypertension in the elderly. Herrera J. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem (2015). Available at: //
  • Beta-blockers in the management of coronary artery disease: are we on the verge of a new paradigm shift ?. Elgendy IY, Mahmoud A, Conti CR.Recent Pat Cardiovasc Drug Discov (2014). Available at: //
  • Beta-blockersSpanish Heart Foundation. Retrieved 06/09/2018. Available at: //
This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor. ThemesHeart

What Are Beta Blockers? (March 2023)