Beta blockers are prescription medications doctors use to treat high blood pressure and some types of heart conditions. They work by blocking receptors for epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormone-like compounds that speed up the heart rate and raise blood pressure. By blocking these receptors, beta blockers cause a drop in blood pressure and heart rate.
Because these medications have powerful effects on the heart, they shouldn't be stopped suddenly. Most doctors recommend that beta blockers be tapered gradually to avoid sudden changes in heart function and blood pressure.
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Talk to your doctor about what tapering schedule you should use to safely stop your beta blocker. How rapidly the medication can be tapered varies with the dose and how long you've been on it. Get precise instructions from your doctor on how much to take each day.
Write down in a notebook how much beta blocker you'll be taking daily based on your doctor's instructions. When you take each dose, record it along with the date and time.
Take a daily blood pressure reading three hours after taking your scheduled dose of beta blocker. Record this value in your notebook with the time and date. If your blood pressure rises above 140/90, contact your doctor to see if changes should be made to your dosing schedule.
Monitor for signs of dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, nervousness or fatigue. These commonly occur when tapering a beta blocker. They aren't usually abnormal, but your doctor should know about them. Record these symptoms in your notebook. Contact your doctor if you experience chest pain, palpitations or shortness of breath.
Contact your doctor when you've completely stopped the beta blocker, or sooner if your blood pressure readings are above 140/90 or you're having significant side effects. Continue recording your blood pressures daily in your notebook. Take your records with you when you see your doctor.
How to Safely Stop a Beta Blocker
Tips and warnings
- Don't stop a beta blocker or change the tapering schedule without your doctor's approval. To reduce the risk of drug interactions, talk to your doctor before starting any new medication or supplement.
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