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Beta Blockers and Exercise

Beta Blockers and Exercise

Beta blockers are drugs that affect the heart condition. Read this article to know about the exercise modifications, that you may need to undertake, when taking these prescription drugs.
Omkar Phatak
Intake of beta blockers and exercise constraints are related. The rate, intensity, and effectiveness of exercise depends on the heart rate and blood flow. Consumption of these medications substantially affects the working of a heart. That is why, they affect the exercising capacity of a person.
Beta Blockers Facts
Here are some facts about these medications, that will help you understand why and how they are used to control the heart condition of a person.
  • Beta blockers are also called beta-adrenergic blocking agents, as they block the functioning of beta receptors. They achieve that, by inhibiting the action of norepinephrine and epinephrine, stopping them from bonding with the various beta receptors, which occur on nerves in various vital parts of the body, including the heart. Beta receptors play an important role in activating many metabolic functions. The effects of epinephrine (a.k.a. Adrenaline) and norepinephrine on the body, are directed towards energizing it for greater effort and one of them is increasing the blood pressure.
  • The receptors which beta blockers mostly block are β1 (positioned in the kidneys, eyes, and heart) and β2 (positioned in the skeletal muscles, liver, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract) receptors.
  • Their effects on the heart are reduction of heart rate and dilation of blood vessels, causing reduction in blood pressure. It puts a threshold limit on the heart rate, which puts a lot of limitations on exercise. The natural stamina of a person is affected by them and exercise limitations are, therefore, necessitated.
  • These drugs are prescribed to treat high blood pressure, angina, heart failure, myocardial infarction, migraine, glaucoma, overactive thyroid problems, abnormal heart rhythms, akathisia (restlessness), and anxiety.
  • There are various types of beta blocker drugs, prescribed for treating different diseases. Some are selective blockers and block only certain beta receptors, while some are non-selective. Some of the beta blocker drugs are Propranolol, Nebivolol, Nadolol, Metoprolol, Carvedilol, Bisoprolol, Acebutolol, Atenolol, and Timolol.
Side Effects
There are a varied kinds of side effects of this drug and they may not be the same in all patients. The most common side effects are dizziness, coldness, and extreme fatigue. Most of these are triggered by a low heart rate. Other rare side effects are impotence, memory loss, shortness of breath, feet swelling, back pain, and constipation.
Exercise Constraints
In case of heart patients, beta blockers put a cap on the maximum heart rate and therefore, it does put restrictions on their exercise and stamina. It may be difficult to exercise at the start, after you have started your first course of these drugs. Slowly, you must learn to cope up with it. Selective beta blockers generally do not cause, as much of a problem, as non-selective ones. Understand the limits of your stamina and exercise accordingly.
If you have been monitoring the degree of exertion achieved during a cardiovascular exercise routine, by monitoring the heart rate, you may have to consider measuring that in a different way, as your heart rate will not be a very good indicator any more, due to the threshold limit set by beta blockers. Consult your doctor and plan a different exercise regimen, which is compatible with your modified condition.
A medication causes an artificial modification in natural body function and, therefore, it is bound to cause imbalance somewhere. The thing that you have to see is, whether the trade-off is worth it. The effect of beta blockers on exercise, is relative to the physiological condition of the people who are subjected to it.
Disclaimer: This article is for reference purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a certified medical practitioner.