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About Beta Blockers - Part 2

Desmond | Lead Clinician

Feb-09-2022 | Physiology

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As discussed in About Beta Blockers - Part 1, beta blockers are a class of drugs which work by bloking the neurotransmitters norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline) from binding to receptors. Beta receptors are present all over the body and cause a very wide range of physiologic effects. The blockade of these receptors may lead to several unwanted effects, such as bradycardia (which is low heart rate), hypotension (low blood pressure), fatigue, constipation, bronchospasm, nausea, sexual dysfunction are widely reported.

This article will attempt to highlight on adverse effects of beta-blockers in people with diabetes, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Management of diabetes with co-existing high blood pressure can be challenging with the use of beta-blockers. If you have diabetes, it is important to be conscious of the warning signs of low blood sugar. One of the symptoms of low blood sugar levels is a rapid heartbeat and since beta-blockers slow down the heart rate, they can mask these signs or symptoms, making them less obvious. This makes it difficult to tell when your blood sugar is low and could ultimately interfere in the appropriate management of diabetes. Beta-blockers can also potentially increase blood glucose concentrations and antagonize the action of oral diabetic drugs.

Asthma and COPD, have been classic contraindications to the use of beta-blockers as well, this is primarily due to their potential for causing bronchospasm. Recommendations have recently aligned for allowing beta-1 selective beta-blockers, in athmatics and COPD patients.

In conclusion, people who have bradycardia, hypotension, asthma, COPD and diabetes have relatively contraindication to beta-blocker usage. These people may require frequent heart rate and blood pressure monitoring, critical observation to watch out for signs of low blood sugar and subjective feelings of shortness of breath.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as the substitute for the medical advice of a physician.