This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. I'm fine with this Cookie information

Beta-blockers


What do they do?

How do I take them?

Side Effects

What do they do?

Beta-blockers have many complex actions on the body.  They are used to reduce high blood pressure, relieve angina, regulate heart rhythm or for the treatment of heart failure. They slow down your heart rate, which means that your heart does not have to work as hard.  The slowing down of the heart rate has many benefits, including:

  • Reduction in blood pressure.
  • If you have atrial fibrillation the slower heart rate makes you feel better.
  • If you've got angina, they help to prevent attacks.
  • If you've had a heart attack they lower your chance of another. 
  • If you have heart failure it reduces the risk of it worsening symptoms.

There are many kinds of Beta-blockers.  The names all end in "-lol".  The most common is Atenolol.  There are many more - for example Bisoprolol, Cardvedilol, Labetalol, Propranolol.

back to top

How do I take them?

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

back to top

Side Effects

Beta-blockers usually cause no problems, although the slowing of your heart means 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, which you should discuss with your doctor.  If you experience wheeziness or difficulty breathing, contact your doctor.

If you are diabetic you may find changes in your insulin requirement. Beta blockers can reduce the signs of a hypo.

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

back to top