Treatment with Beta Blockers
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- What are beta blockers?
- What are examples of beta blockers?
- What conditions are beta blockers prescribed to treat?
- What are the side effects of beta blockers?
What are beta blockers?
The class of drugs called beta blockers were given their name because this class of medications counteracts the stimulatory effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) on the so-called beta-adrenergic receptors found in many body tissues, including the nervous system and heart. Normal stimulation of the beta receptors leads to a faster heartbeat along with the constriction of blood vessels, resulting in an overall increase in blood pressure.
Beta blockers, therefore, counteract stimuli that lead to an elevated blood pressure, resulting in a slower pulse rate and a reduction in blood pressure. Both these effects reduce the workload of the heart, so beta blockers are of value in treating the symptoms of angina pectoris, the chest pain brought on by narrowing of the coronary arteries that causes inadequate delivery of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Beta blockers also are prescribed as treatments for high blood pressure and have been shown to improve survival when administered following a heart attack.
REFERENCE: Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.
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