Beta-blockers are a group of drugs that include Atenolol, Metoprolol, Bisoprolol and Carvedilol for example.

Mechanism of action

Beta-blockers act on the beta-receptor, which is found in the heart as well as the blood vessels.  They prevent the action of stress hormones, for example Adrenaline, from binding to these receptors. As a result they cause a fall in heart rate and blood pressure.  These properties are useful in patients with coronary artery disease and cardiac failure to protect the heart muscle by reducing its workload, as well as a number of arrhythmias.

Potential side-effects

Beta-blockers should be used with caution in individuals with asthma/obstructive airways disease, cardiac failure and cardiac conduction disease as well as psoriasis. Common side effects include: a slow heart rate (bradycardia), a drop in blood pressure (hypotension), dizziness, wheeze and fatigue.