While beta blockers can be extremely helpful in lowering blood pressure and treating certain heart conditions, they are not always the ideal treatment. Contraindications of beta-blockers should be considered with caution, as the drug may worsen some conditions or mask the symptoms of complications. Some of the contraindications of beta blockers include diabetes, asthma, partial heart block and slow heartbeat.
Diabetes is a contraindication for beta blockers.
One of the most common contraindications to beta-blockers is the existence of type I or type II diabetes. Diabetics are prone to a condition known as hypoglycemia, or extremely low blood sugar, which can be signaled by symptoms such as dizziness, chills, and an increased heart rate. Because beta-blockers work by reducing adrenaline in the bloodstream and slowing the heart rate, major symptoms of hypoglycemia can be masked by medication. For this reason, beta-blockers are rarely prescribed to diabetics, especially those who rarely experience the outward symptoms of hypoglycemia.
Beta blockers are traditionally recommended to treat conditions such as abnormal heart rhythm and chest pain.
In the quest for beta-blockers to lower blood pressure, they can also cause a narrowing of the airways known as bronchoconstriction. This action can make breathing difficult, which may not be a problem for healthy patients, but can wreak havoc on asthma patients. Asthma is one of the most critical contraindications for beta-blockers, as the use of the drugs can cause sudden, violent attacks of asthma that can lead to hospitalization and death. Even patients with mild asthma, or those who had asthma as children but not as adults, may be advised against using beta-blockers.
Beta blockers can cause stomach upset.
Side effects of beta blockers include some cardiovascular changes that can pose dangers for patients with heart disease. Cardiovascular contraindications to beta-blockers often include the presence of heart block, a condition in which electrical signals from the heart’s chambers are not always transmitted correctly, leading to an irregular heartbeat. Beta blockers can increase irregularity, worsening heart block and leading to an increased potential for heart failure or unstable heart rhythms.
Contraindications to beta-blockers may include asthma.
A slower than normal heartbeat, known as bradycardia, can also be dangerous when combined with beta-blockers. As the main action of these drugs is to reduce the heart rate, the presence of bradycardia can lead to an extremely low and unsustainable heart rate. In cases where beta-blockers are prescribed, regardless of this contraindication, patients may experience more serious side effects from the drug and may be at an increased risk of heart failure.