Heart and Vascular

Understanding Beta Blockers

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If you’ve had a heart attack, your doctor will probably prescribe a medication to reduce your risk of having another one. Beta-blockers are one commonly prescribed medication. Your doctor may also prescribe beta-blockers if you have high blood pressure or other heart problems. Here are some things you should consider when taking a beta-blocker.

Side Effects

Beta-blockers slow your heart rate. As a result, you may notice that you feel more tired. You may also feel like you can’t exercise as hard as you used to. Beta-blockers can decrease your sex drive. In men, it can cause erectile problems. If you notice any issues while taking a beta-blocker, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.

Some people experience dizziness or light-headedness when they first start taking a beta-blocker. It should go away after the first few days of taking the medicine, but tell your doctor if you continue feeling dizzy.

Contact your doctor right away if you notice serious symptoms such as:

  • Sudden weight gain
  • Swelling in your hands, feet, or legs
  • Chest pain
  • Heartbeat slower than 50 beats per minute

Blood Sugar Changes

You can take a beta-blocker if you have diabetes, but you may need to monitor your blood sugar levels more carefully. Beta-blockers can cause high blood sugar levels. They can also mask signs of low blood sugar, such as an increased heart rate. Discuss with your doctor how often you should check your blood sugar.

Allergic Reactions

Discuss with your doctor any allergies you might have. Beta-blockers can cause allergic reactions to be more severe and harder to treat. Call 911 if you experience symptoms of a serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing.

Sun Sensitivity

Beta-blockers can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. You may be more likely to burn or develop a rash while taking them. Take extra precautions to protect your skin. Wear sunscreen and cover up with long sleeves and hats.

Cold Weather

You may notice that you’re more sensitive to cold temperatures. Wear extra layers to keep yourself warm.

Contact your doctor if you experience any problems while taking a beta-blocker. Don’t stop taking the medicine without talking to your doctor first.

At WCHN, our cardiology experts diagnose and treat heart conditions of all kinds. Learn more here: