Harvard Heart Letter

Beta blockers: Cardiac jacks of all trades

Uses for beta blockers range from lowering blood pressure to improving heart failure.

The release of the first beta blocker in the early 1960s revolutionized the treatment of chest pain caused by exertion or stress (angina). Over the following four decades, these old dogs have learned many new tricks, from protecting the heart after a heart attack to controlling heart failure. Today, millions of Americans take a beta blocker.

This medication spotlight looks at how beta blockers work, who can benefit from them, and what to expect if you take one.

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