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 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter

Holistic-online.com

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Blood Pressure Medications

Beta-adrenergic Blocking Drugs (Beta Blockers)

The sympathetic nervous system produces chemicals like adrenaline-the "fight or flight" hormone-that can make the arteries constrict, the heart beat more forcefully, and the blood pressure soar. Beta blockers interfere with the way these chemicals affect the heart and arteries, preventing the constriction of the small arteries that control blood pressure, the arterioles.

Beta blockers reduce nerve impulses to the heart and blood vessels. This makes the heart beat slower and with less force. They act directly on the heart, blood vessels and sympathetic nervous system.

Beta blockers include propranolol (Inderal), nadolol (Corgard) and metoprolol (Lopressor).

Beta blockers also reduce anxiety in many patients. Therefore, doctors often use beta blockers on extremely nervous or high-strung patients whom they feel could use a little calming down.

Side effects of beta blockers

Common side effects of beta blockers include:

  • Dizziness

  • Slow heart rate

  • Light- headedness

  • Fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Indigestion

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Cold extremities

More serious, less common side effects include:

  • Disorientation

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Decrease in libido and Impotence (Studies show that some men become impotent on beta blockers and that some women on these drugs may have difficulty achieving orgasm.)

  • Chest pains

  • Impaired circulation

  • Congestive heart failure (in persons with advanced heart disease)

Finding the appropriate dose is critical when you use beta blockers. If the heart is slowed down too much, the victim may feel constantly exhausted by the slightest exertion. In rare cases, the conduction of the heart rhythm may be so impaired that the impulse no longer passes from the upper to the lower chambers of the heart: This is called heart block, and if an effective and rapid enough "rescue rhythm" doesn't emerge to pace the heart, the situation is very serious. Anyone taking a beta blocker should be carefully monitored by a physician.

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