Beta-Blockers for Coronary Artery Disease
How It Works
Beta-blockers reduce the workload on the
heart by slowing the heart rate. A more rapid heart rate caused by exertion and
excitement increases the workload on the heart.
Why It Is Used
Beta-blockers lower heart rate and
blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart. This in turn can help
relieve or prevent chest pain and discomfort (angina). Beta-blockers are often used with other
medicines to treat a
heart attack in progress.
are also taken after a heart attack for a long time-maybe for the rest of your
life-to lower the risk of sudden death.
How Well It Works
Beta-blockers can reduce the
severity and frequency of angina.1
Beta-blockers also lower blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure helps to lower the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Side effects of beta-blockers may include:
- Decreased blood flow to the extremities, causing them
to feel cold.
- Increased leg pain brought on by exertion (intermittent
In people who have diabetes, beta-blockers can cover
up warning signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), such as change in pulse
rate, and increase the risk of low blood sugar episodes.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Your doctor may ask you to take your pulse regularly to make sure your heart rate is not too slow. To learn how to take your pulse, see the topic Taking a Pulse (Heart Rate) .
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
O'Toole L (2008). Angina (chronic stable), search date June 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.