Those individuals who suffer from angina and abnormal heart rhythms will find beta blocks an important addition to day to day living. They slow the heart rate which in turn reduce the work load of the heart. Beta blockers are also known as beta adrenergic blocking agents, this is because their blocking action starts in the adrenal glands.
Beta Blockers are drugs that interrupt the transmission of stimuli through the beta receptors of the body. They block the action that originates in the adrenal glands as well as elsewhere.
This type of medication is used mainly in the treatment of heart disorders. They are also given, from time to time, to treat other conditions.
These drugs are used in the treatment of angina, hypertension, and irregular heart rhythms. Other uses could be to reduce the likelihood of further heart problems (e.g.heart attack).
Beta Blockers may also be used in heart muscle disorders, as well as to prevent migraine headaches, and to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. If you suffer from glaucoma you may be given a beta blocker as they lower the fluid pressure inside the eye.
How beta blockers work
Beta blockers nullify the stimulating action of noradrenaline the main ‘fight or flight’ hormone. This reduces the force, and speed of the heart beat, and prevent the dilatation of blood vessels. The stop on the transmission of signals through beta receptors in different parts of the body produces a wide range of benefits, and side-effects according to the disease being treated.
Taken to treat angina these drugs reduce the severity of attacks. When taken in part, to treat hypertension, they help to lower blood pressure and in turn reduce the risks associated with this condition. Because beta blockers affect many parts of the body, they commonly produce minor side effects.
Many people experience cold hands and feet owing to the reduction of blood supply to the limbs. Reduced circulation can also lead to temporary impotence while receiving treatment.
The main risk of beta blockers is the risk of provoking breathing difficulties as a result of blocking beta receptors in the lungs. Cardioselective beta blockers are less likely to cause this problem however, all beta blockers are prescribed with caution to people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, or other forms of respiratory disease.
This medication would not be prescribed to people who suffer from poor circulation as the effects of this drug, may reduce this even more, nor would they normally be given to someone with a history of heart failure because they would further reduce the force of the heart beat.
If you are diabetic and you need to take this type of medication you should be aware you may notice changes in warning signs of low blood sugar; in particular, you may find that symptoms such as tremor and palpitations are suppressed.
You should never attempt to alter your dosage and any concerns you may be experiencing should be discussed with your doctor. Beta blockers should not be stopped suddenly after prolonged use, this may provoke a sudden recurrence of symptoms of the original problem, even a heart attack, blood-pressure may rise. When treatment needs to be stopped this should be done gradually under medical supervision.
Below is listed a number of the most common medication used to treat angina, hypertension. Highlighted medication will open in a new window.
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