Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Select An Article

Heart Disease and Beta-Blocker Therapy

Font Size

Beta-blockers are one of the most widely prescribed classes of drugs to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and are a mainstay treatment of congestive heart failure. Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) and slowing the heart's rate, thereby decreasing the heart’s demand for oxygen. Long-term use of beta-blockers helps manage chronic heart failure.

Examples of beta-blockers include:

Recommended Related to Heart Disease

Heart Tests Your Doctor May Recommend

Preventing a heart attack is a lot easier when you -- and your doctor -- know exactly what's going on in the vessels that carry blood throughout your body. Are they blocked with plaque or free-flowing? To find out, your doctor may recommend a high-tech imaging test that shows a clear image of your arteries. Here's what you need to know about them.

Read the Heart Tests Your Doctor May Recommend article > >

Why Are Beta-Blockers Prescribed?

Beta-blockers are often prescribed for these heart conditions:

In addition, beta-blockers are sometimes prescribed for glaucoma, migraine headaches, anxiety, certain types of tremors, and hyperthyroidism.

How Should I Take Beta-Blockers?

Beta-blockers can be taken in the morning, at meals, and at bedtime; taking them with food minimize side effects because absorption is slower. Follow the label directions on how often to take a beta-blocker. The number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and how long you need to take the medication will depend on your condition. Ask your doctor what to do if you miss a dose.

Beta-blockers should not be prescribed if you have low blood pressure or a slow pulse, because the further reduction in heart rate can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. If you have asthma or COPD, your doctor may not prescribe a beta-blocker because it may worsen symptoms. If you have heart failure and severe lung congestion, your doctor will treat your congestion before prescribing a beta-blocker.

While you are taking a beta-blocker, you may need to record your pulse every day. If your pulse is slower than it should be, contact your doctor about taking your beta-blocker that day.

Never stop taking a beta-blocker without speaking to your doctor first, even if you feel that it is not working. Sudden withdrawal can worsen angina and cause heart attacks.

What Are the Side Effects of Beta-Blockers?

Side effects of beta-blockers include:

Side effects of beta-blockers are common and usually mild, but if these symptoms persist or become severe, contact your doctor:

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure