Why Are Beta Blockers Prescribed?


Beta blockers—also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents—are a class of drugs generally prescribed to people who have certain heart conditions because of their efficacy in slowing down one's heart rate, leading to the heart's lessening oxygen requirements.

Consequently, beta blockers are the most frequently prescribed type of drug for the treatment of everything heart-related, including high blood pressure, angina, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and congestive heart failure.

Other reasons why beta blockers might be prescribed include hyperthyroidism and migraine headaches. Some beta blockers are now being prescribed off-label for social anxiety as well as generalized anxiety.

Commonly Prescribed Beta Blockers

  • Sectral (acebutolol)
  • Zebeta (bisoprolol)
  • Brevibloc (esmolol)
  • Inderal (propranolol)
  • Tenormin (atenolol)

They are typically prescribed in conjunction with a so-called water pill (or diuretic) or a similar medication that contributes to lower blood pressure.

How They Work

Beta blockers work by blocking the chemicals norepinephrine and adrenaline from binding to beta-1 and beta-2 receptors in the brain. Consequently, they reduce one's heart rate and blood pressure while increasing blood flow.

Three types of beta receptors are found in the body: Beta 1, Beta 2 and Beta 3. Selective beta blockers chiefly work on beta 1, while non-selective beta blockers block beta-1 and beta-2 receptors.

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