Skip to content

Heart Failure Health Center

Heart Failure and Beta-Blockers

Font Size
A
A
A

Drugs called beta-blockers improve the heart's ability to relax, decrease the production of harmful substances produced by the body in response to heart failure, and slow the heart rate. Over time, beta-blockers improve the heart's pumping ability.

Beta-blockers are essential for people with heart failure -- even if they do not have symptoms. Beta-blockers are prescribed for patients with systolic heart failure (ejection fraction below 40%) and improve survival, even in people with severe symptoms.

Recommended Related to Heart Failure

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Why It Happens

You collapse without warning. Your heart stops beating, and blood stops flowing to your brain and other organs. Within seconds, you stop breathing and have no pulse. This is sudden cardiac arrest.  

Read the Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Why It Happens article > >

There are several different types of beta-blockers, but only three are specifically approved by the FDA to treat heart failure:

  • Zebeta (bisoprolol)
  • Coreg (carvedilol)
  • Toprol-XL (metoprolol succinate)

 

How Should I Take Beta-Blockers for Heart Failure?

These medications may be taken with meals, at bedtime, or in the morning. Food delays how beta-blockers are absorbed but may reduce side effects. Follow the label directions on how often to take this drug. 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.

Beta-blockers should not be used if you have extremely low blood pressure (hypotension) or a slow pulse (bradycardia) that may cause you to feel dizzy or light-headed. If you have severe lung congestion, your health care provider will treat your congestion before prescribing a beta-blocker.

While you are taking this drug, your doctor may tell you to take and record your pulse daily. He will tell you how rapid your pulse should be. If your pulse is slower than it should be, contact your doctor about taking your beta-blocker that day.

Never stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor first, even if you feel that it is not working. When you start taking beta-blockers, your heart failure symptoms may become slightly worse while your heart adjusts to the medication. This is a normal effect, but let your doctor or nurse know if you become extremely tired, gain more than 5 pounds, have trouble breathing, or have other signs of congestion or swelling. Once your heart adjusts, you will feel better.

 

Today on WebMD

Compressed heart
Article
Salt Shockers
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW
 

Mechanical Heart
Article
Omega 3 Overview Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Atrial Fibrillation Guide
Slideshow
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 

Compressed heart
Article
FAQ Heart Failure
Article
 
Cholesterol Confusion
Health Check
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Slideshow
 

WebMD Special Sections