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What exactly are beta blockers and when are they used?

Beta blockers are medications that the doctors prescribe whenvarious heart problems need to be treated, although the conditions that affectblood vessel are also treated with these medications. Arrhythmia, hypertension,angina, heart failure, heart attack and glaucoma are only some of theseproblems. Still, in the majority of cases, diuretics, calcium channel blockersor some other medications will be given a chance first, and only after them,beta blockers will be suggested.

On the other side, besides these conditions, the medicationsin question are officially approved for the treatment of migraine headaches,hyperthyroidism, generalized anxiety disorder and certain types of tremors. As for their mechanism of action, they tend to block betareceptors to which adrenaline and other stress hormones bind, which is how they causeproblems in form of increased heart rate or blood pressure, constriction ofblood vessels and others. By blocking these receptors, beta blockers usually cause theopposite effect of the hormones in question, although not always, becausesometimes they might also worsen the problems with breathing, for example.

What side effects can be experienced when taking betablockers?

First of all, it is important to point out that thismedication is well tolerated by the majority of people who take it. Sideeffects happen rarely, but the patients need to be informed about them in orderto recognize them in time if any of them occurs. Those that are regarded as lessserious in nature are slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, cold hands andfeet, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and various gastrointestinal problems suchas diarrhea, constipation and upset stomach. On the other side, those that requireconsultations with the doctor who prescribed the medications include feeling oflightheadedness or even fainting, pain in the chest, symptoms that indicateheart failure (swelling of hands and feet, shortness of breath) or allergicreaction, as well as depression, problems with sleeping and loss of sex drive. Allof them are serious and none of them should not be ignored because theconsequences might even be fatal in such case.

Due to the increased risk of complications and side effects,the doctors are advised to carefully consider whether they will prescribe themto people who suffer from diabetes, liver diseases, chronic obstructivepulmonary disease, asthma, myasthenia gravis, heart block, and problems withkidneys. Since they affect the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, thedoctors should be careful when dealing with the patients who have these problems as well.

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