Beta-blockers have been shown
to reduce symptoms and improve survival in people with systolicheart failure. Beta-blockers can also be helpful for
people with diastolic heart failure.
One of the main causes of
diastolic dysfunction is that the heart does not have enough time to relax and
fill before pumping blood out to the rest of your body. By slowing your heart
rate and reducing the force of contraction of each beat of your heart,
beta-blockers allow more time for your heart to fill with blood and can thus
improve the function of the heart in a person with diastolic heart failure.
Beta-blockers also can lower your blood pressure and can slow thickening of the
heart muscle (hypertrophy) caused by high blood pressure, which is another
major cause of diastolic heart failure.
Common side effects of
Worsening of heart failure.By reducing the heart rate and the force of contraction of your
heart, beta-blockers can initially diminish the function of your heart and can
sometimes make your heart failure worse. In fact, it is common for people to
notice that their symptoms get a bit worse during the first few weeks of
treatment with beta-blockers. If you start taking one of these medicines for
your heart failure, you will need to see your doctor more often in the
beginning so that your medicines can be adjusted and your condition evaluated.
If your heart failure is severe, you may not be able to tolerate beta-blockers
Aggravation of peripheral arterial disease.If you have severe peripheral arterial disease (blockages in arteries of
your legs), you may not be able to take an adequate dose of a beta-blocker for
your heart failure. Fortunately, this is not a common limitation to the use of
Abnormally slow heartbeat.Although slowing the heart rate can be beneficial to you if you have diastolic
heart failure or coronary artery disease, slowing your heart rate too much can
be counterproductive if you have systolic dysfunction because this can further
reduce the amount of blood pumped by your heart. A heart rate that is too slow
can make you feel weak or dizzy. Monitoring the heart rate is one of the
reasons why you will need to see your doctor more often when you first start
taking a beta-blocker.
The decision about whether to use beta-blockers to treat
heart failure can be a difficult one because you will need to weigh the great
potential benefit of these drugs against the risk of possible side effects.
Your doctor will be able to help you evaluate the risks and benefits that are
specific to you and will help you make the best decision.
Robin Parks, MS
Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer
Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
August 25, 2008
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 25, 2008
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