Beta-Blockers

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023

Beta-blockers are a type of drug prescribed for people with systolic heart failure (HF). Beta-blockers can be used by people with systolic HF either with or without symptoms. Beta-blockers are also used to treat heart failure that causes:1-4

Beta-blockers are sometimes prescribed with other drugs to treat heart failure, such as:1

  • Aldosterone antagonists
  • Angiotensin receptor-neprilysin inhibitors (ARNIs)
  • Sodium-glucose co-transporter (SGLT2) inhibitors

How do beta-blockers work?

Beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of the hormone epinephrine. This hormone is also known as adrenaline. By blocking this hormone, beta-blockers stop your heart from responding to adrenaline. This slows your heart rate and makes it easier for your heart to pump blood.1-4

Examples

There are many types of beta-blockers. But only 3 are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat heart failure:1-4

  • Bisoprolol
  • Coreg (carvedilol)
  • Toprol-XL® (metoprolol succinate)

What are the possible side effects?

Side effects can vary depending on the specific drug you are taking. The most common side effects of beta-blockers include:1-4

  • Tiredness
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry mouth or eyes

These are not all the possible side effects of beta-blockers. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking a beta-blocker. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking a beta-blocker.

Other things to know

Before treatment with a beta-blocker, tell your doctor if you have:1-4

  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis, emphysema, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Certain types of arrhythmias
  • Raynaud's phenomenon

Before beginning treatment for heart failure, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

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