|Drug treatments: Beta blockers|
- Slow the heart rate
- Ease the workload of the heart
- Are generally very effective at reducing blood pressure
- Reduce deaths from heart disease
Many beta blockers are now available, including:
- Propranolol (Inderal)
- Acebutolol (Sectral)
- Atenolol (Tenormin)
- Betaxolol (Kerlone)
- Carteolol (Cartrol)
- Metoprolol (Lopressor/Toprol XL)
- Nadolol (Corgard)
- Penbutolol (Levatol)
- Pindolol (Visken)
- Carvedilol (Coreg)
- Timolol (Blocadren)
- Labetalol (Normodyne)
- Nebivolol (Bystolic)
The drugs may differ in their effects and benefits.
Problems with beta blockers
On the downside, studies suggest an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in people who take beta blockers. Also, people who already have diabetes should use caution taking beta blockers with other high blood pressure medications. This is because beta blockers may mask the symptoms of hyopglycemia (low blood sugar), which can be dangerous.
Because beta blockers can narrow bronchial airways, patients with asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis should avoid beta blockers if possible. Some beta blockers tend to lower HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol).
In general, the benefits of beta blocker therapy usually outweigh the side effects.
Possible side effects include:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Sexual dysfunction/erectile dysfunction
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Memory loss
- Confusion -- especially in the elderly
- Dizziness and light-headedness upon standing
- Lessened capacity for exercise
- Cold hands, fingers, feet, toes
- Decreased heart function
- Stomach and digestive problems -- diarrhea or constipation
- Asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis can be aggravated
Reviewed By: Larry A. Weinrauch MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Cardiovascular Disease and Clinical Outcomes Research, Watertown, MA.. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.