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Beta blockers stop the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline), a hormone that plays a role in your body’s “flight-or-fight” response. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, sugar metabolism and blood pressure when you experience a strong emotion like anger or fear.
These medications slow your heartbeat and reduce the force with which blood pumps to the rest of your body, which can be useful in treating conditions that increase your heart rate or blood pressure.
Your doctor can treat a variety of conditions with the use of beta blockers, especially conditions of the cardiovascular system. Uses of beta blockers include the treatment of:
Less common uses of beta blockers include treatment of glaucoma, migraines, anxiety, some tremors and hypothyroidism.
Taking your medications as directed by your doctor or pharmacist (medication adherence) is crucial to your health and getting the best results out of your treatment plan. Medication adherence can also reduce your cost of care long term.
In fact, a recent study reported that patients with three or more health issues, including hypertension, saved approximately $4,423 annually by adhering to their medication regimen. Patients who did not regularly take their medications saw their costs increase by $7,946.
Several factors may cause patients to stop taking their medication. Some patients might not understand the directions, and others may be forgetful. Patients with multiple conditions often take a lot of medication, most of which require different doses and schedules—this can make it difficult to take each one as prescribed. Other factors may include cost or unpleasant side effects.
If you aren’t happy with the side effects, DO NOT STOP taking your medication. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your concerns. He or she may be able to decrease your dosage, adjust your current medications or discuss other ways to make you more comfortable throughout treatment.
It is very dangerous to stop taking your beta blocker prescription without first consulting your doctor. Suddenly stopping this medication can lead to complications, including:
An abrupt discontinuation of beta blockers increases your likelihood of experiencing a heart attack, angina and even death in part of the heart muscle—a condition called myocardial infarction.
Increased hypertension and anxiety
Patients who stop taking beta blockers might see a significant rise in their blood pressure or experience other symptoms of anxiety like heart palpitations, tremors or sweating.
If you were prescribed a beta blocker to treat hypothyroidism or if you develop hyperthyroidism while you are taking beta blockers, you may be at higher risk of a thyroid storm if you suddenly stop taking your medication. A thyroid storm is a life-threatening condition that can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to an abnormally high level.
Sudden cardiac arrest
Beta blockers are often taken to prevent cardiac arrest, however, sudden withdrawal from them can increase your risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
Sticking to your medication schedule is important. If you find that you have trouble taking your beta blockers, or following other prescribed treatments, talk with your doctor. He or she can help you develop a strategy that will work best for you. Once a beta blocker has been stopped, it may be tricky to resume taking the medication. Work with your doctor and follow instructions carefully.
Try these tips to help you stay on schedule:
There are lots of barriers when it comes to medication adherence, and it’s important to understand what happens if you miss a dose. If this is the case, call your doctor for direction.
Our providers are board certified in general cardiology and interventional cardiology. We have over 30 providers with decades of experience in heart-related care. As a part of Utah’s largest independent physician group, we have a network of physicians who are able to care for all cardiology needs.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.