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What are beta-blockers?

Beta blockers reduce the heart's workload and are used for high blood pressure, chest pain and to prevent a repeat heart attack.

Beta-blockers are often prescribed to treat angina, high blood pressure, and irregular heart rhythms. They:

  • Block stress hormones and relieve stress on the heart's pumping action
  • Relax the blood vessels so blood can move more easily
  • Improve the heart's function
  • Reduce symptoms and lessen the chance of future hospitalizations

Examples of beta-blockers include:

  • acebutolol HCl (Sectral)
  • atenolol (Tenormin)
  • betaxolol (Kerlone)
  • bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • carvedilol (Coreg)
  • labetalol HCl (Normodyne, Trandate)
  • metoprolol succinate (Toprol XL)
  • metoprolol tartrate (Lopressor)
  • nadolol (Corgard)
  • nebivolol (Bystolic)
  • pindolol (Visken)
  • propranolol HCl (Inderal)
  • sotalol (Betapace)
  • timolol maleate (Blocadren)

Beta blockers are drugs that block up beta receptors. These drugs all end in "lol." Most of them lower blood pressure but they also slow the heart rate (this is an example of a drug that's a twofer -- medication that treats two issues).

In fact, beta blockers are an example of a drug that's a threefer, because not only does it lower the blood pressure and the heart rate, it decreases the force of contraction of the heart so it decreases oxygen demand. (This is a really good drug for people who've had a heart attack.) So a threefer drug lowers blood pressure, lowers heart rate, has less contraction force, less pressure to pump, so the heart doesn't work as hard and doesn't use as much oxygen. Beta blockers also help treat migraines and heart failure. Examples of beta blockers include:

  • Metoprolol (Topeol/Lopressor)
  • Carvedilol (Coreg)
  • Bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • Labetalol
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Beta blockers are drugs that are often used to treat heart conditions. They lower heart rate and blood pressure, which allows the heart to work more efficiently. These drugs also help prevent migraines in some people. Beta blockers approved by the FDA for this purpose include propranolol (Inderal) and timolol. Other beta blockers, such as atenolol and metoprolol, have also been used to prevent migraines. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

Beta blockers are a form of medication used to treat high blood pressure, angina (chest pain) and other conditions. This class of medications works by blocking the action of adrenaline in the body.    

  • Examples of Beta Blockers:
  • acebutolol (Sectral)
  • atenolol (Tenormin)
  • betaxolol (Kerlone)
  • bisoprolol/hydrochlorothiazide (Ziac)
  • bisoprolol (Zebeta)
  • carteolol (Cartrol)
  • metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
  • nadolol (Corgard)
  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • sotalol (Betapace)
  • timolol (Blocadren)

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