Beta-blockers are a class of medications that are commonly used to treat high blood pressure and certain heart conditions. They block the actions of norepinephrine and epinephrine or adrenalin on the beta-receptors in the body that are responsible for the “flight or fight” response that occurs with stress.
There are different types of beta-receptors throughout the body. One group (beta-1) is located in the heart and kidneys, another (beta 2) in the intestinal tract, uterus and skeletal muscle and smooth muscle of blood vessels, and yet another group (beta 3) in the fat cells.
Some beta-blockers affect all the receptors whereas some are more selective. Beta-blockers are commonly used to lower blood pressure, reduce abnormal heart rhythms, and improve blood flow to the heart. They are also used for performance anxiety to blunt the fear response that some people have with performing in public.
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