Common beta blockers include bisoprolol, metoprolol, atenolol, carvedilol and propranolol. Acebutolol, esmolol and labetalol are other beta blockers, according to WebMD. These medications are usually prescribed to treat high blood pressure, heart failure, chest pain and heart rhythm problems. They are also sometimes used to treat migraines, anxiety and glaucoma.
Beta blockers lower blood pressure and slow heart rate by blocking the action of epinephrine, or adrenaline, notes WebMD. This decreases the amount of oxygen the heart requires to function. Taking beta blockers sometimes causes side effects, including fatigue, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea and upset stomach. Patients may also experience headache, cold hands, depression, shortness of breath and loss of sex drive. Side effects are generally mild and only need to be reported to a doctor if they become severe or bothersome.
Beta blockers are contraindicated in patients with slow heart rate or low blood pressure because lowering the heart rate more can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness, states WebMD. Doctors usually do not prescribe beta blockers to patients with asthma, as these medications may cause severe asthma attacks or worsen asthma symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. Because beta blockers are capable of inhibiting some symptoms of low blood glucose, closely monitoring blood glucose levels is recommended for diabetic patients taking beta blockers.