Beta Blockers: Uses, most common brand names, and safety information
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Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common condition that affects almost 46% of American adults. Beta blockers are a class of medication that was originally used to treat angina (chest pain) in the 1960s. Now they are used for a variety of health conditions including hypertension, congestive heart failure, and certain types of irregular heartbeat. They are not a first-line treatment for hypertension and are typically used when other medicines such as diuretics, aren’t working or have too many side effects.
The list below includes FDA-approved beta blockers and their pricing:
List of Beta Blockers
What are beta blockers?
Beta blockers, which are also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, are antihypertensive medications that are used to lower blood pressure. They reduce the stress on your heart and blood vessels and are predominantly used to manage abnormal heart rhythms. They also lower your risk of a second heart attack after a previous one. Beta-blockers are often used with other heart medications, including ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. They are typically given as immediate-release or extended-release tablets or capsules.
What are the 3 types of beta blockers?
There are three main types of beta-blockers:
- Nonselective beta blockers such as Corgard (nadolol). They work on beta-1 and beta-2 receptors all over your body.
- Cardioselective beta blockers such as Tenormin (atenolol). They only block beta-1 receptors in your heart and not beta-2 receptors in the smooth muscle of your lungs or blood vessels.
- Third-generation beta blockers such as Coreg (carvedilol). These beta blockers have other actions such as blocking alpha receptors or activating the production of nitric oxide to relax your blood vessels and increase blood flow.
How do beta blockers work?
Beta-blockers are beta receptor blockers or antagonists. They bind to beta-adrenoreceptors which inhibit norepinephrine and epinephrine from binding at these receptors. This prevents stimulation of your heart to decrease your heart rate, contraction of your heart muscle, and conduction velocity. This helps reduce your heart’s oxygen demand while increasing your exercise tolerance.
What conditions are beta blockers used to treat?
Beta blockers are mainly used to treat heart problems such as:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Coronary artery disease
- Angina (chest pain)
- Arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AFib)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
- Tachycardia (fast heart rate)
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- Aortic dissection
- Portal hypertension
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
Beta blockers can also be used for conditions not related to the heart, including:
Are beta blockers safe?
The use of beta blockers is relatively safe and effective when taken as prescribed. Before beginning treatment with beta blockers, tell your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:
- Severe bradycardia (low heart rate)
- Second or third-degree heart block
- Diabetes, as beta blockers may mask symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), such as heart palpitations, sweating, and tremors
- Kidney or liver disease
- High cholesterol or triglycerides
- Pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant or are breastfeeding
What are the common side effects of beta blockers?
The adverse effects you experience from beta blockers will depend on several factors including the medication and dose. Some side effects of beta blockers include:
- Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Decreased sex drive and erectile dysfunction
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth and skin
- Swelling (edema)
- Allergic reaction
This is not a complete list of side effects and we encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider for medical advice about any possible side effects.
Who should not take beta blockers?
Beta blockers are not typically given to people with severe asthma, COPD, low blood pressure, slow heart rate, or those with a heart block. You should also not take a beta blocker if you have a known allergy to any ingredients in the product’s formulation.
Can beta blockers weaken the heart?
A study published in the journal Circulation Research found that blocking the beta-receptor alone may damage the structure and function of the heart. Those that work on both alpha- and beta-receptors such as Coreg (carvedilol) offer the most benefit to heart patients, especially when combined with inhibitors of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE inhibitors).
How long will you need to take a beta blocker after a heart attack?
Your doctor will determine how long you will need a beta blocker to prevent a second heart attack. You may be on it for years after a heart attack, although you might not need it for that long. For those without heart failure, beta blockers may only be beneficial in the first year or so after a heart attack.
Should you take beta blockers in the morning or at night?
A European study showed that people who took their medications at night had better blood pressure control and a 45% decreased risk of death or illness due to heart-related problems.
Are beta blockers used to treat anxiety?
Beta blockers such as propranolol and atenolol are sometimes used off-label to treat anxiety. They do not help treat the psychological causes of anxiety but they can with anxiety symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and dizziness.
How much do beta blockers cost?
Beta blockers are very expensive with an average cost of around $500 per year.
You can purchase Beta blockers for $49 per month from NiceRx if eligible for assistance. Prices at the pharmacy vary by location, strength, and quantity, as well as your insurance status.
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.