Skip to content
Study: Beta Blockers May Be Overused
Haylen_WebMD_Staff posted:
Click the link above for information on a new study suggesting that many patients may not benefit from beta-blockers, one of the most commonly prescribed medications for heart disease.

As always, never stop or start any prescription or non-prescription medication without consulting your doctor.

Was this Helpful?
4 of 4 found this helpful
cardiostarusa1 responded:
Well said Haylen.

While on the subject/topic of beta-blockers, and as I've posted here several times a year, this class of drug is notorious for causing problems (mainly due to side effects, which includes fatigue, tiredness, lack of energy, weakness, lethargy), though obviously, any type of drug may/can cause various problems.

There are two broad categories of beta-blockers, lipophilic and hydrophilic. Studies in the past have showed that lipophilic beta-blockers, are more likely to cause central nervous system-related side effects (e.g., bad dreams, nightmares or hallucinations), than hydrophilic beta-blockers.

Beta-blockers are also considered selective or nonselective, that is, the selective type technically only affects beta 1 receptors and non-selective type can affect both beta 1 and beta 2 receptors.

Selective = typically (though not always), a decrease in systemic side effects, non-selective = typically (though not always), an increase in systemic side effects.

Eveyone is biochemically and metabolically different. An individual's metabolism responds differently to beta-blockers. Also, a problem with this drug is that some beta-blockers are known to cross the blood brain barrier easier than others.

Though ominous sounding, this barrier is actually a body-friendly network of blood vessels and cells that filters blood flowing to the brain.

For example, it is reported that propranolol (non-selective) crosses the barrier rather easy and this is apparently why it causes more central nervous system side effects such as nightmares, hallucinations and depression, than the beta-blockers that do not cross into the barrier (low penetration characteristics) as easy.

Non-selective beta-blockers may/can increase lipids and worsen blood sugar tolerance. They might also exacerbate respiratory abnormalities in those with reactive airway disease.

Take care all,




Patient resources


Drugs A-Z

Ask A Patient

Rate a drug, side effects, comments, etc.

Haylen_WebMD_Staff replied to cardiostarusa1's response:
Thank you for the additional information Cardio! Side effects can vary so widely from person to person - good to keep in mind when discussing treatment with your physician.

billh99 replied to Haylen_WebMD_Staff's response:
This should be posted over in the hypertension forum.

I see many people post that the only BP med that they are on is a beta blocker.
cardiostarusa1 replied to Haylen_WebMD_Staff's response:
You're welcome.

More additional information:

It is said that medicine is a science of uncertainty and an act of probability, and for many, prescription drug-therapy is a hit or miss, trial and error affair.

Side effects/adverse reactions can not be predicted or pre-determined. If/when side effects occur, this may/can diminish or disappear as the body adjusts itself to the drug, though sometimes, one will simply not be able to tolerate a certain drug (or drugs) at all, at any dose.

Factors and conditions such as age height, weight, gender, genetics and metabolism may/can come into play in determining who experiences side effects and who does not.

Pharmacogenomics, the study of the interplay between genes and drugs, helps to explain why prescription drugs have different effects in different individuals. Genetic variation in one or more genes may be the basis for a therapeutic failure or for an adverse drug reaction.

Without lowering the dosage (unless applicable), sometimes, taking a particular prescription drug at a different time of the day or taking it with food may/can improve the side effect-related situation.

Sometimes, changing to another same-class drug or taking a lower dose of the drug along with another class of drug (for a combo-action) may/can impove the side effect-related situation.


I just hope that absolutely no one out there is as hypersensitive or intolerant to just about every class of cardiovascular drug as my father (battled coronary artery disease and peripheral artery disease for about a decade) was. Several times, horrendous side effects from prescription drugs almost killed him.


Featuring Experts

James Beckerman, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist at the Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic in Portland, OR. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Col...More

Helpful Tips

Nix Grapefruit & Statin DrugsExpert
Grapefruit & statin drugs can be a bad combination. Unlike other citrus fruits, grapefruit contains substances that disable certain ... More
Was this Helpful?
13 of 15 found this helpful

Expert Blog

The Heart Beat - James Beckerman, MD, FACC

Dr. James Beckerman shares how small, livable lifestyle changes can have a real impact on your risk of heart attack and stroke...Read More

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health General and Consultative Heart Care Center