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Beta Blockers, What are they?

Beta blockers are a group of heart medications used in the treatment of mild to moderate hypertension (high blood pressure), angina pectoris due to ischemic heart disease, Glaucoma, Myocardial infarction and can be used for other reasons. They work by blocking certain hormones (ephedrine/adrenaline) at beta receptors in the body, this process leads to a reduction in the rate of heart beat and thus less force needed to pump blood and also they help open up blood vessels leading to an improvement in blood flow.

 

Available Medication

This group of medications (Beta-blockers) are available as tablets, capsules, ophthalmic solutions and as injections for parental administration in various brands and generics.

 

What do they block?

The body is comprised of both alpha and beta receptors, with three subtypes of beta receptors and they function depending on their location in the body.

  • Beta-1 (β1) receptors located mostly in the eye, heart and kidneys.
  • Beta (β2) receptors located in the liver, uterus, blood vessels, lungs, skeletal muscles and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Beta (β3) receptors located in fat cells.

Beta blockers specifically block β1 and β2 receptors, thereby reducing the effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine leading to the dilatation of blood vessels hence reduced blood pressure, reduction in heart rate and may constrict the airways (adverse effects).

 

What do they treat?

 

Beta blockers are used to treat:

  • High blood pressure
  • Angina pectoris due to ischemic heart disease (long term management) and
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Migraine prophylaxis
  • Symptomatic management (tremor, tachycardia) in anxiety and hyperthyroidism

Prescription and over the counter medication

All beta-blockers require a prescription from the doctor. Some of the used Beta-blockers frequently obtained with a doctor’s prescription are:

Brand

Generic

Prescription or over the counter

Tenormin

Atenolol

Prescription

Lopressor, Toprol XL

Metoprolol

Prescription

Sectral

Acebutolol

Prescription

Zebeta

Bisoprolol fumarate

Prescription

Betoptic S

betaxolol

Prescription

 

Safety information

 

Side effects

Some of the side effects involved with the use of topical steroids may include the following:

  • Tired feeling
  • Confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Nightmares
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild itching or rash.
  • Dizziness
  • Very slow heartbeats
  • A light-headed feeling
  • Like you might pass out
  • Shortness of breath (even with mild exertion)
  • Swelling
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Cold feeling in your hands and feet

 

Contraindications

The use of any beta-blocking agent is contraindicated in any one who is hypersensitive to any of the active ingredients or any ingredients used in the formulation.

 

Warnings and precautions

 

  • Special caution should be taken when administering Beta-blockers to patients with a history of heart failure.
  • Patient with angina should never abruptly stop the use of Beta-blockers.
  • Should be administered with caution in patient’s diabetes or history of diabetes.
  • Beta-blockers should be administered with caution in patients with hepatic impairments.
  • Beta-blockers should be administered with caution in patients with renal impairments.
  • Patients should operate with caution any machinery or driving as some beta-blockers are known to cause dizziness.
  • Some beta-blockers should not be issued to children younger than 18 years of age.
  • Beta-blockers should be used with caution in pregnant, and breast feeding women.

 


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