College of Pharmacy
In this section
HelixTalk Episode #131 - Come One, Come All: Know Everything about Beta-blockers!
Date posted: June 1, 2021, 6:00 am
In this episode, we will review the beta-blocker drug class. We discuss their pharmacology, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic parameters, evidence-based use, efficacy, and safety considerations.
- Various beta-blockers are divided into four main subtypes: non-selective, B1-selective, beta-blockers with alpha 1 antagonistic activity, and beta-blockers with intrinsic sympathomimetic activity (ISA). These subtypes govern their place in therapy, efficacy, and adverse effects.
- With regards to dosing, “start low and go slow”. The antihypertensive effect is dose-specific, but heart failure therapy requires a GDMT dosing approach to initiate and reach a certain target dose. Do not initiate as a new agent in acutely decompensated heart failure and definitely do not abruptly stop the therapy -- a taper over 1-2 weeks is required.
- Beta blockers are not first-line antihypertensives; however, they should be used in patients with compelling indications, such as systolic heart failure and post-MI. Other uses include angina, atrial fibrillation, migraine, tremors, and more.
- Beta blockers are associated with a number of adverse effects including bradycardia, bronchoconstriction, weight gain, dyslipidemia, hyperkalemia, and masking of hypoglycemia. More severe adverse effects include heart block, exacerbation of heart failure, and morbidity/mortality from acute withdrawal.