Beta Blockers


I bet you were discharged out of the hospital on several new medications. I am not a pharmacist but can certainly talk about the common medications for heart disease and their side effects. It is important to understand what medications you take and what they are supposed to do, as well as what potential problematic side effects to be watchful for.

Beta Blockers – Beta blockers work by reducing the heart rate and causing the heart to beat less forcefully. They also relax blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and allows blood to travel more easily to all areas of the body.

Common Beta Blockers: Atenolol, Proprandalol, Metoprolol, Bisoprolol, Carvedilol

Side effects:

  • A slow heart rate  – this is what they are supposed to do slow the heart rate but sometimes it slows too much. Heart rates in the low 40’s or less should be reported to you physician.  When sleeping usually your heart usually beats even slower so rates in the 20-30’s are a problem
  • Low blood pressure- again this is what beta blockers are supposed to do, but if your blood pressure is less than 80/40 or you don’t feel well at the level you are at report to your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Fatigue – It takes about 30 days for your body to get used to this medication. If you are so fatigued that you cannot perform your daily functions contact your doctor.
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness – Get up from seated positions slowly, wiggle your legs before standing if you have been seated for a long length of time
  • Lightheadedness or fainting, which can be a sign of dangerously low blood pressure. Again get up slow from bending over, seated positions and do a good cooldown with exercise to prevent this side effect.
  • Worsening of asthma – if you have asthma make sure your doctor aware as this medication can make it worse.
  • Depression
  • Signs of heart failure, such as rapid weight gain, swelling of the hands and feet, and shortness of breath
  • Sexual problems erectile dysfunction is very common and low sex drive. Don’t be afraid to mention this to your physician.
  • Masking of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar. If you have diabetes measure blood sugar frequently before and after exercise.
  • Exercise intolerance sometime the heart rate is so blunted from this medication that it cannot rise enough to pump blood to the exercising muscles we call this chronotropic incompetence. You should see your heart rates rise 10-20 points while exercising or more. If you feel like you can’t progress your exercise intensity without feeling fatigue, weak or short of breath this may be the cause.

5 thoughts on “Beta Blockers

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