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Beta-Blockers

Summary

Beta-blockers are highly useful and relatively inexpensive medications. They remain among the most commonly used treatments for high blood pressure, although other types of medication have become more popular in recent years. Popularity of these newer medications rests almost entirely on their lower frequency of side effects: they have not been shown to treat the condition any more effectively. In fact, beta-blockers remain one of the two types of medication that have actually been shown to extend the life of people with high blood pressure.

Resources

Books

Edelson, Edward. The ABCs of Prescription Drugs. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., 1987.

Hoffman, Brian B., and Robert J. Lefkowitz. "Adrenergic Receptor Antagonists." Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Oppenheim, Mike. 100 Drugs that Work. Los Angeles: Lowell House, 1994.


W. A. Thomasson

KEY TERMS

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Alpha receptors (BETA-adrenergic receptors)

—Proteins on the surface of target cells through which epinephrine and norepinephrine exert their effects.

Angina pectoris (angina)

—Chest pain that occurs when blood flow to the heart is reduced, causing a shortage of oxygen. The pain is marked by a suffocating feeling.

Beta receptors (BETA-adrenergic receptors)

—Proteins on the surface of target cells through which epinephrine and norepinephrine exert their effects; beta receptors respond to the two substances to approximately the same extent.

Epinephrine (adrenaline)

—The "flight-or-fight" hormone synthesized by the adrenal gland.

Norepinephrine (noradrenaline)

—A substance that certain nerve cells release in order to produce their effects.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ballistic galvanometer to Big–bang theoryBeta-Blockers - Adrenergic Receptors, Mechanism Of Action, Side Effects, Summary