Medications: Beta Blockers
The drugs called beta blockers are widely used in treatment of a variety of conditions that are common in the elderly. They have an effect on the heart rate and on the blood vessels. They are extensively used in the treatment of angina (heart pain), after heart attacks, in the treatment of high blood pressure, and for patients with heart failure. These drugs are also used in the prevention of migraine headaches, for the treatment of some kinds of anxiety, and for parkinsonism.
These drugs have a wide variety of effects and side effects and should be taken only under the direction and observation of your physician.
Important Points in Therapy
One of the direct effects of these drugs is the slowing of the heart rate. This means that your heart rate will not rise as high or as fast with exercise. This may cause some slight limitation of the speed and endurance with which you can approach tasks. Usually with exercise your heart rate rises to supply blood to working muscles. Without enough blood flow, the muscles will fatigue quickly. There must then be a brief interval of rest to permit the blood flow to catch up with the muscles’ needs. The rest needed may only be a matter of a half a minute before you are ready to continue your tasks.
The drug should not be stopped abruptly. It may require a graduated discontinuance of the medicine to avoid the recurrence of symptoms.
This class of drug will interact with many other medications. Be sure to tell your physician about all of the medications that you are taking including nonprescription drugs and drugs that you only take occasionally.
Side effects of the drugs may involve many bodily systems. Side effects do not occur in all patients. Cardiac side effects may include a very slow heart rate and postural (orthostatic) hypotension. Some men suffer impotence. Asthma-like bronchospasm will occur in a few patients. The drug may have effects on the central nervous system including depression, confusion, insomnia, and dizziness. These usually happen when the drug is first started or the dose is changed. Careful followup with your physician is necessary to ensure that you are receiving the proper dose to get the full benefit with minimum or no side effects.
Notify Our Office If ...
- You experience any of the above mentioned side effects while taking a beta blocker drug.
- You decide that you must stop taking the drug for any reason.