Beta Blocker medication side effects and benefits
June 2 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.


A beta blocker is a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and heart problems. A beta blocker blocks the harmful effects of stress hormones on the heart. This medicine also slows your heart rate. Beta blockers can also be used to prevent migraine headaches in people who get them frequently. Nearly one in three adults in the United States has high blood pressure, also called hypertension, which can increase the risks for stroke, heart failure, heart attack, kidney failure, and death. Beta blockers can be useful by they have side effects.


Q. Are there natural beta blockers available over the counter?
   A. I am not sure if there are any specific natural products that block beta receptors, but I will review more studies and post them.

Benefit and harm, guidelines
This group of medicines is known as beta-adrenergic blocking agents, beta-blocking agents, or, more commonly, beta-blockers. They are prescribed in the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). Some are also used to relieve angina (chest pain) and in heart attack patients to help prevent additional heart attacks. Beta-blockers are also used to correct irregular heartbeat, prevent migraine headaches, and treat tremors.


The general consensus is that these medications are of benefit in some with heart failure and others with fragile hearts badly damaged by heart attacks.


Not useful or harmful
These medications may not be of use when prescribed in people at high risk of heart disease, those with partially blocked arteries (coronary artery disease, or CAD) but who have not had a heart attack, and heart attack survivors.


Atenolol (brand name Tenormin) is a beta blocking drug used mainly for control of hypertension, angina, for management of acute myocardial infarction and occasionally for thyroid storm management. Side effects of Tenormin include dizziness, lethargy, mild low heart rate, depression, and shortness of breath.
Metoprolol (brand names: Lopressor, Toprol XL), metoprolol succinate, is a beta1-selective (cardioselective) adrenoceptor blocking agent, for oral administration, available as extended release tablets. Toprol-XL has been formulated to provide a controlled and predictable release of metoprolol for once daily administration.
Nebivolol - In 2007, FDA approved Bystolic ( nebivolol ) for the treatment of high blood pressure. Bystolic is a "beta blocker," a well-established class of medications that reduces blood pressure by reducing the force with which the heart pumps.
Propranolol (brand name: Inderal). I like to take about 20 to 40 mg of propranolol before giving speeches. This beta blocker does work well for state fright.



The only prescription medication I take is atenolol 25 mg twice daily. I have been taking it for about 10 years and am 54 years old and in pretty good shape. Just had a physical and most vital signs are looking good. I told the doctor I might be interested in an alternative if there was anything that might not make me as tired. He prescribed metropolol and I have not started it yet. Is there anything you can offer about natural remedies or alternatives.
   I am not aware of an herb or natural supplement that works the same way as a beta blocker. It depends what the

Beta Blocker side effect, danger, risk, adverse reactions
The most common beta blocker side effects are cold hands and feet, tiredness, insomnia, and sleep disturbance (nightmares). Less common beta blocker side effects include, dizziness, wheezing, digestive tract problems, skin rashes and dry eyes.


Diuretics and beta-blockers, used to treat hypertension, are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


Q. I have just became familiar with your website. Have you ever had an instance where Toprol was involved in neuropathy that you know of? I had an aortic valve replaced in Jan. of 09 and developed burning and tingling in late July. Both hands and feet were cold after surgery and started taking 25mg of Toprol then. One of the possible side effects of the drug according to the side effects printed on the notice when you have the prescription filled is lower blood flow to the hands and feet. Not asking any specific questions as to my situation but have you folks seen a situation where Toprol was a factor?
   Use of Toprol can result in drop in blood pressure and blood flow through the body because the heart is not pumping normally. Cold, tingling, or numbness in the hands or feet can occur.


Cardiorespiratory arrest in a healthy volunteer after a single l dose of 80 mg of the beta-blocker propranolol. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2010 Sep 6. Rover MD, Noorden MS, Nieuwenhuis S, Wee NJ. Cognitive Psychology Unit, Leiden University; Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC).


Sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, impotence, loss of libido
A beta blocker side effect that is most distressing to men is erectile dysfunction or impotence. Many doctors do not warn their male patients about this quite problematic beta blocker side effect.


Q. I was prescribed beta blockers to help alleviate my constant urination. I do not have a enlarged prostate, After taking this beta blocker for a month I noticed that I could not get an erection impotence, I had lack of libido. I had lack or orgasms, also had less ejaculation. Really a total sexual dysfunction
   A. Many people have a positive response to herbs and the dietary suggestions, but as long as the beta blockers are continued it is likely for these sexual dysfunction issues to continue.

Higher rate of cataract in eye
Dr. G. L. Kanthan from University of Sydney and University of Melbourne evaluated data came from the Blue Mountains Eye Study population, a population-based cohort study of older Australians. There was a borderline association between the use of oral beta-blockers or calcium-channel blockers and the incidence of nuclear cataract. Diuretics and ACE inhibitors, on the other hand, were not associated with the development of any cataract subtype. The use of oral beta-blockers significantly increased the likelihood of cataract surgery, whereas the use of other classes of antihypertensive medications did not predict incident cataract surgery. The use of topical beta-blockers appeared to increase the probability of developing nuclear cataracts and the probability of having cataract surgery, the researchers note. Br J Ophthalmol 2009.


Mental side effects, memory loss, depression, cognitive decline, dementia
Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2007. The influence of beta-blockers on delayed memory function in people with cognitive impairment. Adrenergic signaling is important for the retrieval of intermediate-term contextual and spatial memories. The role of norepinephrine in retrieval requires signaling through beta1-adrenergic receptors in the hippocampus. Environmental cues activate the locus ceruleus, the main adrenergic nucleus of the brain, when an environmental stimulus is memorable. This leads to norepinephrine activation in the hippocampus, which is important for retrieving memories. Although beta-blockers do not impair cognition in normal subjects, this article explores the possibility that central nervous system (CNS)-active beta-blockers could affect delayed memory in patients with cognitive impairment.


Fam Med. 2014. Beta-blockers and depression in elderly hypertension patients in primary care. Previous findings regarding a possible association between beta-blocker use and depression are mixed. To our knowledge there have been no studies investigating the association of beta-blockers with depression in primary care hypertension patients without previous myocardial infarction. Our findings show that primary care hypertension patients who use a lipophilic beta-blocker are more likely to have higher depression scores than those who do not use a lipophilic beta-blocker.


Beta blocker drugs are often the go-to medication for people who've survived a heart attack. They may not be the medicine of choice for nursing home residents with dementia. Taking the drugs may reduce the risk of death but the drugs are also associated with a higher risk that a patient with moderate or severe dementia would be unable to independently perform the functions of daily life.


Post MI beta blocker use

Long-term beta-blocker therapy may improve outcomes following an MI, but most patients stop taking these drugs after just a few months. Drug cost does not appear to be a major determinant of non-adherence. Perhaps beta blocker side effects, for instance impotence or sexual dysfunction, may be one of the reasons patients stop taking these drugs.


Hypertension or high blood pressure medication
The available evidence does not support the use of BBs as first-line drugs in the treatment of hypertension. Leone AM; American Journal of Cardiology 105 May 2010.


Beta blocker for sleep apnea

Treatment with beta blocker drugs appears to improve the severity of central sleep apnea in some patients with chronic heart failure. Central sleep apnea involves periods when an individual stops breathing during sleep, which is caused by a failure of the brain to send appropriate signals to the breathing muscles.


Q. I take a Doctor prescribed drug for a heart condition (an enlarged heart) called Nadolol. You mentioned on your site that an impotence cure can be achieved when some of these drugs are stopped. Is it possible that Passion RX will have any noticible effect in curbing my impotence while taking this Beta Blocker, will my attempts be futile until I am no longer taking this drug.
  A. We don't suggest using Passion Rx in anyone with a heart condition since it can lead to palpitations.

Q. I take Toprol XL 25 mg and Quinipril 5 mg, each 1x day. I also have a slight heart murmur controlled by the Toprol beta blocker. I am 48 years old and am experiencing a decline in sexual libido. I have no significant stressors with my partner or otherwise. I am interested in Passion Rx. To your knowledge are there any contraindications or health risks associated with my medications and the ingredients in Passion Rx?
   A. We don't recommend Passion Rx for those who have a heart condition, unless no more than a quarter of a capsule is used 2 days on, one day off, along with medical approval. Other gentler options include ashwagandha, muira puama, or Prostate Power Rx (even for women). It is preferable to use low doses, which in some instances may mean a portion of a capsule. As you doctor may have mentioned to you, beta blockers reduce sexuality.

Q. i have tried Passion rx, tongkat ali, and muira puama, and nothing is working to increase libido. can you suggest any other herbs that might work to increase my sex drive and enhance libido. I currently take zocor, plavix and atenolol, for prescription medicine. any help would be greatly appreciated.
   A. Many of the sex herbs stimulate the heart and we don't suggest them for anyone with a heart or cardiovascular condition. Beta blockers inhibit sexual function and thus it may be difficult for the herbs to reverse this libido blocking effect from beta blockers. If your doctor approves, you could try a low dose of Prostate Power Rx but there is no guarantee since the beta blockers may overpower the herbal effect.

Q. I took the beta blocker Toprol at 25 mg a day and within a few days I had Toprol side effects such as muscle pain, joint pain, hip pain, ankle pain, foggy thinking, memory loss, I gave 40 dollars to a checkout counter lady and forgot to pick up the change. I just wasn't myself. Within 2 days of stopping the Toprol, the side effects went away. My systolic blood pressure was 140 and my doctor wanted to lower it. I am a 75 year old woman.