Do you suffer from headaches, shortness of breath and dizziness? A checkup with your doctor will inform you that you might have hypertension. As a result, your doctor could prescribe beta blockers to reduce your symptoms.
The best way to control hypertension is to know your numbers on a regular basis. If your doctor suspects hypertension, he may want to see the evidence of a sustained problem.
What are Beta Blockers
Discovery of beta blockers is considered as one of the most important contributions to the medicine in the 20th century. Beta blockers are medications that significantly reduce your blood pressure. Likewise, they also help to alleviate migraine headaches.
Also known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents beta-blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline. To be more precise they reduce your body’s flight or fight response. Alternatively, they also reduce stress on certain parts of your body such as the brain’s blood vessels and heart.
When you’re on these medications, your heartbeat becomes slow and pumps with less force. These medications open up the blood vessels and ease blood flow. By lowering your blood pressure, they reduce heart attacks.
Doctors prescribe beta blockers for conditions such as angina, high blood pressure, anxiety, migraine, glaucoma, abnormal heart rhythms, and overactive thread symptoms.
How Do Beta Blockers Function
These medicines block the adrenaline and non-adrenaline hormones. Excess of adrenaline can cause high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, excessive sweating, and palpitations. Blocking these hormones decreases your oxygen demands and reduces the stress on your heart.
As a result, the force of contraction of your heart muscles is reduced which in turn reduces the contraction of blood vessels in your brain, heart and the rest of your body. Similarly, beta blockers block the production of a hormone by kidneys called angiotensin II. This action relaxes and widens your blood vessels which increases blood flow.
Apart from treating heart failure, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and heart attack, beta blockers also address the following conditions glaucoma, overactive thyroid, tremors, and anxiety.
Side Effects and Cautions
Many people who take these medicines do not have any side effects. However, certain people may suffer from side effects such as weight gain, cold hands or feet, and fatigue. Less commonly reported side effect include depression, shortness of breath and sleep disturbances.
What Does Research Studies Say About Beta Blockers
A research study from Penn state university states that beta blockers may help melanoma patients to live longer by boosting their immunotherapy. Not only do these medicines slow your heart but they can also affect immune cells and improve immune function. The researchers say that reducing physiological stress with beta blockers enhances the effectiveness of immunotherapy and increases the lifespan of melanoma patients.
Another research study by the European Lung Foundation concludes that this medication could reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms.
Beta blockers can help reduce the spread of cancer says a study conducted by the ECCO – The European CanCer Organization. They slow down tumor growth and reduces the risk of developing secondary cancers.
These medications are generally used to treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions. However new research by York University shows that these drugs can reverse many harmful genetic changes that are linked to heart disease.
Precautions before taking beta blockers
Consult your doc before taking beta blockers. If you have asthma or diabetes, these medications can trigger a severe asthma attack and mask signs of low blood sugar. Avoid drinking or eating products that contain caffeine or alcohol as these products affect the workings of beta blockers, in your body.
Inform your doctor if you’re pregnant before taking these medicines because some may be safe during pregnancy while others may be harmful. This class of medicines may not work as well in people of African origin as in other ethnic groups.