Harvard Heart Letter

A second look at beta blockers and blood pressure

A beta blocker alone isn't usually the best choice for simple, uncomplicated high blood pressure.

Beta blockers have long been a mainstay for controlling blood pressure when it creeps too high. The first one, propranolol, appeared in 1964. Because it made such a big difference in treating angina (chest pain triggered by exercise or stress) and it shed some light on what regulates the heart, its inventor, Sir James Black, was awarded a Nobel Prize.

Now there are a baker's dozen of beta blockers approved for treating high blood pressure. You can tell a beta blocker by its generic name "" they all end in "lol." The newest, nebivolol (Bystolic), hit the U.S. market in February 2008.

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