Thursday 17th August 2017
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What is a beta blocker

what is a beta blockerWhat is a Beta Blocker?

Beta blockers (correct name: beta-adrenoceptor blocking medicines) are medications used for treating different types of conditions. These include high blood pressure, heart failure, angina, myocardial infarction (heart attack), some abnormal heart rhythms, over-active thyroid symptoms, anxiety, migraine and glaucoma.

Types of beta blockers:

There are several different types of beta blocker and each type has one or more brand name.

Some of the different types include: acebutolol, bisoprolol, atenolol, celiprolol, esmolol, labetalol, metoprolol, nadolol, nebivolol, oxprenolol, pindolol, sotalol, carvedilol, propranolol and timolol

How do beta blockers work?

Beta blockers work by blocking the transmission of some nerve impulses. A chemical called noradrenaline can be released through the ends of some nerves when the nerve is stimulated. Then, the chemical (noradrenaline) stimulates beta-adrenergic receptors.

Receptors are tiny structures, found on cells in various parts of the body such as the brain, heart and blood vessels. Different effects can be caused when these receptors are stimulated, for example beta-adrenergic receptors on heart cells can be stimulated by nerve impulses to the heart. This then causes the force and rate of the heart beat to increase.

Adrenaline, a hormone which circulates the bloodstream, also stimulates the beta adrenergic receptors. The adrenal gland is where adrenaline is made; the blood level of adrenaline varies. Such as, when you are anxious or frightened, it can release a lot of adrenaline into your blood stream, which can also cause an increase in your heart rate, plus other effects.

What the beta blocker medicine does is it sits on beta-adrenergic receptors, which stops and blocks the receptor from being stimulated. So, this means the rate and force of the heart beat will be reduced if the receptors in the heart are blocked.

Stress on the heart is reduced by beta blockers. This is because beta blockers block the action of the sympathetic nervous system of the heart. The ”fight or flight” response is activated by the sympathetic nervous system; it is part of the autonomic nervous system.

Beta blockers also block beta-adrenergic substances. This has the effect of slowing down the heart beat, decreasing the force of the contractions of the heart muscles and also reduces blood vessel contractions in the heart, brain and the rest of the body. An example of a beta-adrenergic substance is apinephrine (adrenaline) found in the autonomic nervous system (involuntary nervous system).’