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Beta-Blockers

E.g. Atenolol, bisoprolol, metoprolol and carvedilol.

What do beta-blockers do?

How do I take them?

Side effects

What do beta-blockers do?

Beta-blockers have many complex actions on the body and are used in the management of many different diseases e.g. high blood pressure, angina, heart failure and after a heart attack.  They slow down your heart rate, which means that your heart does not have to work as hard.  This slowing down of the heart rate has many benefits, including:

  • Prevention of angina attacks
  • Lowering of blood pressure
  • Lowering the risk of further heart attacks if you have had one already

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How do I take them?

  • Beta-blockers are usually taken by mouth, once or twice a day.  Stopping them suddenly could make your angina worse.  Always ask your doctor before stopping.  Asthmatics are generally not given beta blockers as they can adversely affect some people and worsen their asthma. 

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Side effects

Beta-blockers usually cause no problems.  Since they slow your heart you may be less able to manage strenuous physical activity.  Some people feel tired when first starting beta-blockers, for many people the tiredness reduces within a few weeks.  Less common side effects include cold hands/feet.  A few men may get problems with erections. 

If you think you have any side effects from this medicine be sure to mention them to your GP, practice nurse or pharmacist. 

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