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Beta-blockers for angina

Patient information A-Z


The following are some examples of brand names of beta-blockers:

  • Bisoprolol
  • Metoprolol
  • Atenolol

What are beta-blockers and what do they do?

Beta-blockers are used to treat many problems including hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina.

Why am I prescribed a beta-blocker?

A beta-blocker has been prescribed for you as you have a condition called angina. If you have angina beta-blockers help to cut down the work load of your heart.

How do I take my beta-blocker?

Your doctor will decide which beta-blocker you should take. Some are taken once a day but some are taken more often. Always follow the instructions on the label of your medicine.

Do not stop taking your beta-blocker unless your doctor tells you to.

Do I need to have any tests or be monitored because I am taking a betablocker?

You will need to have your blood pressure monitored frequently by your doctor and let them know how your angina is, especially if you are having symptoms more often than before.

Your doctor will alter the dose of your beta blocker if your blood pressure is too high or too low or if you are experiencing angina symptoms.

Remember: You can take glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) if you get a sudden attack of chest pain

Are there any side effects?

The main side effects seen with beta blockers include:

  • Tingling or pains in your fingers and toes, especially in cold weather
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling dizzy or faint when you stand up
  • Having strange dreams
  • Having an upset stomach
  • Having a skin rash or dry eyes
  • Having problems with sexual intercourse

These side effects should be mild but if you have any concerns about these or any other side effects please contact your doctor or specialist nurse for advice.

Tell your doctor straight away if:

  • You have asthma or if you feel wheezy after taking your beta-blocker.
  • You notice that you feel short of breath or if you get swollen ankles. Your doctor will want to check that your heart is working properly.
  • You are diabetic. You might need to check your blood sugar more often.

Are there any problems taking beta-blockers with any other medications?

Beta-blockers should not be taken by patients who are asthmatic or have other problems with their lungs. You should not take beta-blockers if you use inhalers to relieve symptoms of breathlessness such as salbutamol (often called Ventolin® , a blue inhaler or ‘reliever’). If you use an inhaler like this speak to you doctor as soon as possible.

Only take tablets prescribed for you by your doctor and check with your pharmacist before taking any new medicines.

Further information

Further information about your tablet can be found in the patient information leaflet found in the tablet/capsule box or on the container.

If you have any other questions about your medication, please contact the medicines helpline on 01223 217502.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151