Beta Blocker Drugs
A healthcare provider may prescribe drugs known as beta blockers to treat a variety of conditions, such as high blood pressure, angina, and glaucoma. Although most beta blockers are not approved for use in children, it does not mean children cannot take them.
Beta receptors are located in a number of places within the body, including the heart and blood vessels. Stress hormones (such as adrenaline) bind to these receptors and cause certain reactions in the body, such as an increased heart rate and an increased force with which the heart pumps blood. By blocking beta receptors, beta blockers cause the reverse effect of stress hormones. They lower the heart rate and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
There are several different kinds of beta blockers, some of which are used frequently and some of which are used rarely. Some are "cardioselective" (meaning they are more likely to affect the heart and blood vessels rather than other parts of the body), some have "intrinsic sympathomimetic activity" (meaning they slightly stimulate beta receptors while also blocking them), and some are alpha blockers as well as beta blockers.
(Click Beta Blockers for more information on these drugs, including detail on the various uses of the medications, how they work, and possible side effects. This article also explains what to tell your healthcare provider before starting treatment with a beta blocker medicine.)