Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

High Blood Pressure and Beta-Blockers

Beta-blockers are drugs used to treat high blood pressure. They block the effects of the sympathetic nervous system on the heart. This reduces the work of the heart so that it requires less blood and oxygen. As a result, the heart doesn't have to work as hard, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Beta-blockers help control heart rate and are also used in the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms that may too fast or irregular.

There are several beta-blockers available, including:

Recommended Related to Hypertension

Exercise Tips for Those With High Blood Pressure

Making exercise a habit can help lower your blood pressure. It also gives you more energy and is a great way to ease stress and feel better. Check in with your doctor first if you're not already active now. They'll make sure you're ready for exercise. Since an active lifestyle is good for your blood pressure, your doctor will likely be all for it. You can do any activity you like, and you don't need to go to a gym. As long as you're moving around and making your heart beat a little faster or breathing...

Read the Exercise Tips for Those With High Blood Pressure article > >

Side Effects of Beta-Blockers

Potential side effects of beta-blockers include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Problems with sexual performance and ability
  • Sleeping problems and drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Edema (swelling in ankles, feet, or legs)
  • Trouble breathing, especially asthma symptoms
  • Depression

 

How Should I Take Beta-Blockers?

Before taking a beta-blocker tell your doctor:

  • If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant
  • About any medical conditions you have; some medical conditions might interfere with the action of the beta-blocker, or may worsen with a beta-blocker. Some beta-blockers should not be used if you have bad asthma or emphysema, extremely low blood pressure (hypotension), heart block, or slow pulse (bradycardia).

These drugs should always be taken consistently with meals to avoid fluctuations in their  level and effect.  Follow the label directions on how often to take this medication. 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.

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

Be sure to see your doctor on a regular basis to assess your condition. Your doctor will determine if the medicine is working and if there are any intolerable side effects. If necessary, your doctor may change the dosage. Don't stop taking your beta-blocker without talking to your doctor. Also, don't take any other drugs, including over-the-counter drugs, before talking to your doctor about the potential for adverse reactions (see below).

If you are having surgery of any kind (including dental procedures), tell your doctor you are taking a beta-blocker (as well as any other drugs you are taking).

Drug Interactions With Beta-Blockers

Certain drugs may interact with beta-blockers. Tell your doctor about any drugs or substances you are taking, including:

  • Allergy or cold medications including over-the-counter products
  • Caffeine or diet pills
  • Diabetes medicines, including insulin
  • Other antihypertensive medications
  • Illegal drugs such as cocaine
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on October 31, 2013
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW
man in bed
TOOL
 
heart-shaped stethoscope
Quiz
Overturned salt shaker
Quiz
 
heart healthy living
ARTICLE
Erectile Dysfunction Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Bernstein Hypertension Affects Cardiac Risk
VIDEO
Compressed heart
Article
 
Heart Disease Overview Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
thumbnail for lowering choloesterol slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
Heart Foods Slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Low Blood Pressure
VIDEO
 

WebMD Special Sections