Beta-blocker drugs

A group of drugs, also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, prescribed principally to treat heart and circulatory disorders such as angina and hypertension. Beta-blockers block the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which releases adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine) at nerve endings that are known as beta receptors. There are 2 types of beta receptor: beta 1 and beta 2. Beta 1 receptors are present in the heart and blood vessels, and beta 2 in the lungs. Some betablockers (such as acebutolol, atenolol, and metoprolol) are termed cardioselective and, because they act mostly on beta 1 receptors, are used mainly to treat heart disease such as angina, hypertension, and cardiac arrhythmia. The drugs are sometimes given after a myocardial infarction (heart attack) to reduce the likelihood of further damage to the heart muscle. Other types of beta-blocker, such as oxprenolol, propranolol, and timolol, may be given to prevent migraine attacks by acting on blood vessels in the head; reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety; or control the symptoms of thyrotoxicosis. Beta-blocker drugs such as timolol are sometimes given in the form of eye drops to treat glaucoma and work by lowering the fluid pressure in the eyeball. Beta-blockers may reduce an individual’s capacity for strenuous exercise. The drugs may worsen the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, or other forms of lung disease. They may also reduce the flow of blood to the limbs, causing cold hands and feet. In addition, sleep disturbance and depression can be side effects of beta-blockers.


Online Medical Dictionary: Your essential reference to over 5000 medical terms.