Beta-blockers

How beneficial are beta-blockers? A study out by Stanford University say for every 35 heart attack patients who are on beta-blockers, one life is saved.

"Most heart attacks happen in early morning hours between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. that is because we have a surge in adrenaline when we wake," said Doctor Andrij Baran.


Adrenaline, it's our fight or flight hormone, we need it, but too much of it can wreak havoc.

"When we get scared our hearts start racing and your blood pressure goes up, that is your adrenaline surging and adrenalin has a good effect to get out of dinosaurs way but at the same token, it is very irritating to the heart," Baran said.


A healthy heart handles adrenaline fine but if you have had a recent heart attack or have heart arhythmias, it could potentially make those things much worse. Beta-blockers, a class of heart medication blocks adrenaline.

"There are specific and non specific, that means there are beta blockers that are bind to the heart and nowhere else, there are older ones that not only bind to the heart but also to the lungs and could cause an exacerbation of asthma," the doctor said.


Side effects of beta-blockers include fatigue, trouble with dreams and sleeping, decreased libido, possible depression and weight gain. If side effects don't dissipate within a month, doctors often switch to another medication.


If you are exercising while on beta blockers, Dr. Baran says the beta blocker is like having a parking brake on, no matter how hard you try your heart rate won't get up to a certain level, he suggests if you do exercise, don't concentrate on your heart rate, concentrate on how you feel.

"A lot of people in cardiology instead of using the heart rate as guide, use fatigue as a guide. If you are at the point where you are feeling really fatigued, that is enough and that would be equivalent of reaching magic 75 percent of your maximum heart rate," Baran said.

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