In the movies, you never doubt when a man's having a heart attack. He clutches his chest, screams, or moans, and falls to the ground. If he's lucky, help is on its way.
In real life, the signs aren't always so clear. Some people do experience Hollywood-type symptoms, says Mohamud Daya, MD, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. But others don’t. “Some people say they just feel uneasy discomfort or vague discomfort, not pain that really hurts...
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.