How Cardioselective Beta Blockers Work?

Older man taking medications at table
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Beta blockers are a common type of high blood pressure medicine and are also used to treat problems such as irregular heartbeat, angina, and symptoms of anxiety. Cardioselective beta blockers work the same way as traditional, non-selective beta blockers, but specifically target beta receptors in the cardiovascular system.

How Cardioselective Beta Blockers Work:

Beta blockers work by changing how certain sensors in the body, called beta receptors, respond to signals from the central nervous system.

These medications are used to treat heart and blood pressure problems because both the heart and blood vessels have very high numbers of beta receptors. There are also high numbers of beta receptors in the lungs, but these receptors are slightly different in structure. Cardioselective beta blockers are able to tell the two apart. The cardioselective beta blockers include:

  • Acebutolol
  • Atenolol
  • Bisoprolol
  • Esmolol
  • Metoprolol

Cardioselective Beta Blocker Side Effects:

All medicines carry some risk of side effects. While side effects with beta blockers are fairly uncommon, they have been reported. If you are taking a beta-blocker and experience any side effects, notify your doctor. Some reported side effects include:

  • cold hands and feet
  • swollen ankles
  • slow heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • joint pain

If you are taking a cardioselective beta blocker because you have asthma or other airway diseases, report any breathing problems to your doctor and seek medical care immediately for any serious difficulties.


Only you and your doctor can decide on a proper medication for the treatment of high blood pressure. Be sure to notify your doctor if you are pregnant and to supply the names of any other medicines and/or supplements you are taking. Remember to include over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin or Advil, as well as herbal/natural supplements on your list.

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