Betting on beta blockers

They're versatile and have a long track record. But should you count on a beta blocker to treat your high blood pressure?

Beta blockers — also known as beta-adrenergic blockers or beta antagonists — are among the oldest heart medicines. Propranolol (Inderal), the first drug in the class, was developed in the late 1950s. Many others have come along since, including atenolol (Tenormin), bisoprolol (Zebeta), and metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL). If you're not sure whether a drug is a beta blocker, check its generic name. All the beta blockers end in -lol.

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