How do alpha-beta blockers control high blood pressure?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Alpha blockers are as effective as other types of blood pressure medication. But they are not recommended as the first or only medication. Doxazosin raises the risk of heart failure and heart disease in some people. Some experts recommend prescribing alpha blockers along with a diuretic, especially for people who have heart failure and those at risk for heart failure. 

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Alpha-beta blockers reduce nerve impulses to blood vessels, thus decreasing vessel constriction, and they slow the heartbeat to reduce the amount of blood that must be pumped through the vessels.

Some commonly prescribed alpha-beta blockers include caredilol (Coreg) and labetolol hydrochloride (Normodyne).

Potential side effects of alpha-beta blockers include fatigue, decreased sex drive, anxiety and insomnia. More serious side effects include difficulty breathing, depression, feeling faint and swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or face.

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