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Beta Blocker Side Effects

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Beta-Blocker (BB) therapy was associated with significant absolute annual increases in risks of hypotension, dizziness, and bradycardia… as well as significant reductions in all-cause mortality, HF hospitalizations, and worsening HF.

In other words, according to the study below, yes, beta blockers carry “significant increases in risks” but they also reduce all-cause mortality-the ends justifies the means.

What if a patient diagnosed with heart failure (me) could have the best of both worlds? Reduce my risk of all-cause mortality, HF hospitalizations and worsening HF without the adverse events associated with beta blockers?

I am a long-term cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with late stage side effect called chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy and atrial fibrillation in late 2010. I was put on metoprolol. I immediately experienced a variety of common side effects.

I stopped taking metoprolol and began to digging into the short, long-term and late stage side effects of this common beta blocker.

The bottom line is that I could kick myself! Why? Because I always assume that if a medical doctor like my cardiologist, a well-educated, experienced professional working at a top-notch hospital like the Cleveland Clinic Foundation prescribed a therapy, that therapy has more benefits than risks. Every therapy has risks. Fine. But I don’t want to experience short, long-term and late stage health problems as a result.

What are the adverse events associated with beta blockers?

Beta blockers are a class of medications commonly prescribed to treat conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), angina (chest pain), heart failure, and certain types of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). While beta blockers are generally well-tolerated, they can cause adverse events in some individuals. It’s important to note that the specific side effects can vary depending on the specific beta blocker and the individual’s response. Here are some common adverse events associated with beta blockers:

  1. Fatigue and Weakness: Beta blockers can cause fatigue and weakness, as they may reduce heart rate and cardiac output. This can be particularly noticeable during physical exertion.
  2. Cold Extremities: Beta blockers can lead to reduced blood flow to the extremities, resulting in cold hands and feet.
  3. Bradycardia: A slower than normal heart rate (bradycardia) is a common side effect of beta blockers. In some cases, this may lead to symptoms such as dizziness or fainting.
  4. Low Blood Pressure: Beta blockers can cause a decrease in blood pressure, especially upon standing up (orthostatic hypotension), which may lead to dizziness.
  5. Bronchospasm: Beta blockers, particularly non-selective ones, may cause constriction of the airways, leading to symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. These medications are generally avoided in individuals with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  6. Impaired Glucose Tolerance: Beta blockers can interfere with glucose metabolism, leading to a potential increase in blood sugar levels. This can be a concern for individuals with diabetes.
  7. Depression and Sleep Disturbances: Some individuals may experience mood changes, including depression, and disturbances in sleep patterns while taking beta blockers.
  8. Masking of Hypoglycemia Symptoms: Beta blockers can mask the typical symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), making it more challenging for individuals with diabetes to recognize and respond to low blood sugar levels.
  9. Sexual Dysfunction: Beta blockers may contribute to sexual dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction in men.

My solution? Evidence-based non-conventional heart health therapies. In this particular case, therapies that would help me manage my blood pressure.

Once I began some basic internet research, I was amazed at the number of therapies shown to both keep my heart healthy while lowering my blood pressure.

Many of us know about the Mediterranean diet, but also

  • Daily moderate exercise
  • CoQ10
  • Cocoa and dark chocolate
  • PQQ
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fiber (ground flax for regularity too)
  • Vitamin D
  • Probiotics 

and many others. The blog post linked to the term “chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy” lists my echo readings since 2015. My BP as well as many other heart metrics have improved or stabilized.

My approach is not for everyone. Conventional heart meds can be beneficial for many people. I’m simply offering a different approach.

Let me know if you are interested in learning for about evidence-based non-conventional heart therapies-



David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Magnesium to Reduce Stroke Risk w/ Chronic Afib

Adverse effects of beta-blocker therapy for patients with heart failure: a quantitative overview of randomized trials.

“BBs substantially improve survival in patients with chronic heart failure (HF) with left ventricular systolic dysfunction, but concerns about cardiovascular adverse effects may deter physicians from prescribing this therapy. We performed an overview of randomized beta-blocker trials in patients with HF to quantify the risks of these adverse effects.

METHODS: Heart failure trials of BBs were identified by electronic searches of the MEDLINE database from 1966 to 2002. The random-effects model was used to combine results from individual trials and calculate estimates of risks associated with therapy.

RESULTS: BB therapy was associated with significant absolute annual increases in risks of hypotension (11 per 1000; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0-22), dizziness (57 per 1000; 95% CI, 11-104), and bradycardia (38 per 1000; 95% CI, 21-54). There was no significant absolute risk of fatigue associated with therapy (3 per 1000; 95% CI, -2 to 9). beta-Blocker therapy was associated with a reduction in all-cause withdrawal of medication (14 per 1000; 95% CI, -2 to 29) as well as significant reductions in all-cause mortality (34 per 1000; 95% CI, 20-49), HF hospitalizations (40 per 1000; 95% CI, 22-58), and worsening HF (52 per 1000; 95% CI, 10-94).

CONCLUSIONS: Although BB therapy was associated with hypotension, dizziness, and bradycardia, the absolute increases in risk were small, and overall fewer patients were withdrawn from BB therapy than from placebo. This information should alleviate concerns about prescribing this life-saving therapy to patients with HF.

Metoprolol-Associated Central Nervous System Complications

“Metoprolol is a common medication used by the elderly because it is affordable and has proven to decrease mortality in cardiovascular disease. Multiple studies have reported central nervous system (CNS) side effects associated with use of beta-blockers. The risk of beta-blocker CNS side effects is directly associated with the lipophilic property of the drug…

Despite being an effective treatment option, there are risks associated with beta-blocker therapy. The most common symptoms are

  • psychiatric conditions,
  • bizarre and vivid dreams,
  • sleep disturbances,
  • delirium,
  • psychosis,
  • and visual hallucinations.

Elderly patients who are started on beta-blockers require close monitoring for any adverse neurological symptoms…”

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