Recent Blog Articles

Heart Beat: Beta testing

March 09, 2014

Heart Beat

Beta testing

Beta blockers are among the best treatments for high blood pressure and stable chest pain (angina), as well as after a heart attack, because they reduce the heart’s workload and help it beat more regularly. Yet they can also narrow the tubes that carry air to and from the lungs, a side effect that has traditionally put them off limits for people with asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

That’s changing. Research suggests that beta blockers, especially those that target the heart, are not only safe for people with mild or moderate lung disease, but also good for them. A study, published in the December 15, 2004, American Journal of Medicine, followed almost 2,000 men and women with both high blood pressure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for 10 years. Those who took a beta blocker were about half as likely to have died during the study period as those who took another drug.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.