Family doctor



BETA-BLOCKERS - a patient's guide


Beta-blockers are commonly used to treat high blood pressure and angina. This article profiles the medication, and how it should be used.


  • Acebutolol: ACB, Sectral\t\t\t\t\t
  • Alprenolol: Aptin CR
  • Atenolol: Ansolol, Apo-Atenolol, Loten, Tenormin
  • Celiprolol: Selectol
  • Labetolol: Hybloc, Trandate
  • Metoprolol: Betaloc CR, Lopressor
  • Nadolol: Apo-Nadolol, Corgard\
  • Oxprenolol: Captol, Trasicor
  • Pindolol: Apo-Pindolol, Pindol, Visken, Vypen
  • Propranolol: Angilol, Apo-Propranolol, Cardinol, Inderal
  • Sotalol: Pacific, Sotacor
  • Timolol: Apo-Timolol, Hypermol, Tilmat, Blocadre

USE: Beta-adrenoreceptor blocking agents

This group of medicines are used for hypertension (high blood pressure), angina (chest pain), after myocardial infarction (heart attack) and arrhythmias (heart irregularities). Other uses include anxiety, prevention of migraine, glaucoma and thyrotoxicosis (to control the symptoms).

They have been extensively studied and shown to decrease the risk of stroke other complications in patients with high blood pressure. They have been shown to reduce the risk of death and further problems after a heart attack.

Beta-blockers work by reducing the heart rate and dilate blood vessels through blocking adrenoreceptors. However, they also have unwanted problems including bronchospasm and for this reason should not be used in asthmatics. This is often taken into consideration before prescribing a beta-blocker to treat your condition by the doctor.


  • Asthma (don't use) and lung problems\t\t\t\t\t
  • Hypersensitivity conditions (worsen allergens)\t\t\t
  • Heart failure, myasthenia gravis\t\t\t\t\t
  • Diabetics (may affect glucose control)\t\t
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding\t\t\t\t
  • Abrupt withdrawal in angina\t\t\t\t\t\t
  • Metabolic acidosis, anaesthesia
  • Liver and kidney impairment

Side effects:

Occasional: cold extremities, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth, bronchospasm.

Rarely: skin rash, hair loss, stomach upset, dry eyes, heart problems


Enhanced effects seen with ACE inhibitors, alcohol, anaesthetics, anti-arrhythmics, antihistamines, antidepressants, calcium-channel blockers, diuretics, antihypertensives, antibacterials, anxiolytics, antipsychotics and some other medicines.

Oral contraceptives, HRT, corticosteroids, analgesics, adrenaline can antagonise effects.

Patient information:

  • Follow the instructions on the label of this medicine
  • Do not stop taking this medicine except on your doctor's advice
  • It can be dangerous to suddenly stop B-blockers, especially in the presence of heart problems
  • Alcohol: restrict intake due to enhanced hypotensive effect (dizziness)
  • Avoid taking other medicines unless directed by your doctor/pharmacist
  • Contact your doctor or seek medical attention if side effects are severe or ongoing.

See also:

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