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Beta Blockers

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Immediately after my coronary angioplasty, I was put on 25 mg of metoprolol for life. Apparently the stent placed in one of my heart vessels was also coated with a beta blocker that is released into the vessel over it's lifetime.

Beta Blockers are used to treat high blood pressure, arrythmias and angina. They control the stimulatory effects of adrenaline on the beta receptors that are found in various tissues in the body, including the nervous and cardiovascular system.

Beta receptors, along with the stimulation of adrenaline, assist in the following processes:

a. increased heart rate
b. decreased oxygen uptake by the heart muscle
d. increased blood pressure
e. vessels constriction (athero sclerosis)
f. angina or, chest pain.

Beta blockers :
a. reduce the stimulatory impulses of adrenaline on beta receptors
b. decrease pulse rate, thus lowering blood pressure and work load on the heart
c. reduce vessel constriction and increase oxygen uptake by the heart muscles
d. reduce the risk of heart attacks and symptoms of angina.

There are two kinds of beta blockers, B-1 and B-2. B-1 beta blockers, which regulate heart rate and heart beat, are also called Selective. B-2 blockers along with B-1 blockers (also called Non-Selective) help control smooth muscle functions.

Beta blockers affect other medications used for high blood pressure, allergies, diabetes, asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

While using beta blockers, one should avoid caffiene products, cold and cough medications, anti-histamines, antacids that contain aluminum and alchohol.

There are several kinds of beta blockers in the market including Metoprolal, Lopressor, Inderal, Cartrol, atenolol and acebutolol. Most of these medications come in the similar combinations with different strengths.

Besides being used for heart conditions such as angina and cardiac arrythmias, beta blockers are also used for abnormally fast heart beats, premature heart beats, migranes, glaucoma, anxiety attacks, tremors and mitral valve prolapse.

Side effects of beta blockers include drowsiness, fatigue, cold hands and feet, dry mouth, eyes and skin, swelling of the hands and feet, slow heart beat, dizziness and insomnia. Other side effects also include wheezing and reduced sex drive.

Beta blockers are not prescribed for patients who suffer from asthma. Rare affects include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, joint pains, and depression.

Beta blockers tend to raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and according to the Texas Heart Institute, beta blockers may even hide the symptoms of hypoglycemia. Beta blockers tend to mix with milk and pass into the babies when breast fed by mothers who take them. This can cause breathing problems, low heart beat and low blood pressure in the babies.

Beta blockers also are known for causing cardiovascular disease or coronary artery disease and people who take beta blockers are advised to avoid extreme cold or heat.

The use of beta blockers, along with ace inhibitors and aspirin, in patients with known cardiac abnormalities can prevent further risk of heart attacks, congestive heart failure and angina pectoris. Patients with chronic diabetes or long term diabetes are at high risk for cardiovascular or coronary heart disease.

Heredity, poor diet, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity and smoking are major contributors for heart problems. Proper diet and exercise, along with medications such as beta blockers, ease complications from heart disease and result in longer, healthier lives because 'OUR LIFE MATTERS'.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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