How Beta-Blockers Treat Diastolic Heart Failure - Topic Overview
How beta-blockers work
Beta-blockers are a class of drugs used
to control symptoms of
heart failure that are made worse by certain hormones
catecholamines. The body releases these hormones as
part of its
response to heart failure. For this and other reasons,
beta-blockers have been shown to be effective for treating most people who have
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
In addition, the blood...
Beta-blockers may work by slowing the heart rate, which allows
the left ventricle (the main pumping chamber of the heart) to fill more
Some of these medicines may also help open or widen blood vessels
in the body. This makes them especially useful in some people with certain
forms of heart failure who may also have high blood pressure.
With diastolic heart failure, the heart does not have enough time to relax and
fill with blood before pumping it out to the rest of your body. Beta-blockers help treat diastolic heart failure because they slow the heart rate and allow more time for your heart to fill with blood. Then, your heart can pump more blood with each heartbeat.
Beta-blockers may also slightly increase cholesterol levels.
Other less common side effects
Slow heartbeats (bradycardia)
Fluid buildup in the face, hands, legs, and feet
Increased wheezing in people with asthma
Cold hands and feet
What to think about
The effect of beta-blockers may depend
on the dosage used. A lower dose may have a different effect than a higher
dose. Beta-blocker therapy is typically started at a low dose and increased slowly
It may take a few months to
see the effects of beta-blocker medicine.
Beta-blockers have been
used for many years to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).