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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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High Blood Pressure and Beta-Blockers

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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:

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Side Effects of Beta-Blockers

Potential side effects of beta-blockers include:

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).

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