Treating High Blood Pressure With Beta Blockers
Learn how this type of prescription high blood pressure medication works and discover its possible side effects
Beta blockers work by doing just what the name suggests—they block the beta limb of the automatic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for gearing the body up for action.
At full throttle, the ANS is responsible for your fight-or-flight response, a necessary reaction in the face of an extreme stressor. In the fight-flight state, the beta adrenergic system of the body raises alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure. Beta blockers blunt this exaggerated physiological response to stress, thus effectively lowering blood pressure. Some of the more commonly prescribed beta blockers include propranolol (Inderal), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol), and atenolol (Tenormin).
Potential Side Effects of Beta Blockers
- Sleep disturbances
- Bronchial spasms, especially in asthmatics and COPD patients
- Slow heart beat
- Gastrointestinal problems
I like beta blockers, and I often prescribe them because they are among the safest of all cardiac drugs. They are effective in lowering blood pressure and controlling atrial fibrillation, and research has shown that beta blockers can help reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death following a heart attack.
In general, beta blockers are one medication you should not ditch for natural therapies. And you should never stop beta blockers on your own or abruptly. Sudden discontinuation of these drugs can precipitate angina, high blood pressure, or even heart attack. In addition, beta blockers should be used with caution in the elderly, pregnant women, and those with renal and thyroid disease, and should never be used by those with asthma or active lung disease.
Potential Nutrient Depletion
As with many prescription medications, nutrient depletion is common side effect of beta blockers. Nutrients that may be depleted in the body as the result of taking beta blockers include CoQ10 and melatonin. Consequently, you need to make sure that your supplementation program includes CoQ10 and melatonin, or modify your diet to feature foods that are high in these nutrients.
Good food sources of CoQ10 include: beef, chicken, trout, wild salmon, and broccoli
Good food sources of melatonin include: bananas, barley, ginger, rice, and corn
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Keeping Blood Pressure Low
Want the scoop on other common prescription high blood pressure medications? Learn more about:
What’s the best diet for high blood pressure? Learn how the Pan-Asian Mediterranean (PAM) diet can help lower your blood pressure.
How does exercise help lower your blood pressure? Find out the many ways that exercise promotes healthy blood pressure and get tips on the most heart-healthy types of exercise.
How can you address stress to lower your blood pressure? Read about techniques to help you manage your emotions and daily stressors in an effort to reduce your blood pressure reading.
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Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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