Beta blockers

Beta blockers steady your heart rate and rhythm, lower your blood pressure and reduce the risk of you having a heart attack. Read about the types of beta blockers, how they work and their possible side effects.

Types of beta blockers

  • atenolol, also called Mylan Atenolol, Noten, Tenormin 
  • bisoprolol, also called Bosvate
  • carvedilol, also called Auro-Carvedilol, Dilatrend, Dicarz
  • celiprolol, also called Celol
  • labetalol, also called Hybloc, Trandate
  • metoprolol, also called Betaloc CR, Myloc CR, Lopressor
  • sotalol, also called Sotacor.

How do beta blockers work?

Beta blockers steady your heart rate and rhythm and lower your blood pressure, which reduces your risk of a heart attack. They make it easier for your heart to pump blood.

Beta blockers are used to treat a range of conditions including: 

Beta blockers side effects

You may have some unwanted side effects when taking beta blockers. Common side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • feeling tired
  • increase of your heart condition symptoms
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • difficulty getting an erection or other problems with sex.

Ring 111 if you have any of the following:

  • severe chest pain
  • severe headache
  • acute shortness of breath
  • swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue, as this could be an allergic reaction.

Usually your doctor will start you on a low dose of your beta blocker and gradually increase the dose until it's right for you. It may take a while to feel the benefits of the medication. 

If you have unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor as they may be able to change your medication.

Don't stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor or nurse. Stopping beta blockers suddenly can make your symptoms worse. The benefits usually outweigh the side effects.

What checks do I need?

Your blood pressure and heart rate should be monitored by your GP or nurse at your visits, and more frequently if your dose changes.

What happens if I miss a dose?

It's important to take your beta blocker medication daily and not to skip a dose. 

If you forget to take a dose, take it immediately, then continue as normal the following day. However, if it's almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue as normal.

Do NOT take a double dose.

What else do I need to know when taking beta blockers?

Tell your health professionals if you're taking:

  • supplements
  • natural medicines
  • vitamins
  • alternative therapies. 

These can sometimes make your beta blockers less effective. 

Talk to your doctor if you:

  • have asthma or other lung conditions
  • have diabetes
  • are planning to get pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Related treatments and conditions

AnginaAtrial fibrillationBlood pressureHeart attack Heart failure

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