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High Blood Pressure

Side effects of beta blockers



I have read that beta blockers can cause increased bronchial obstruction and airway reactivity, and resistance to the effects of inhaled oral beta receptor agonists.

I take 25 mg. atenolol daily (mainly for premature ventricular contractions). I have recently been diagnosed with mild copd. My doctor has suggested albuterol on an as needed basis.

Questions: 1. Is it safe to continue taking a low dose of atenolol, which I understand is a selective beta blocker? 2. What would be another drug for low hypertension that would help with the PVC`s? (My left kidney is dilated and functions slowly, and I am prone to urinary tract infections.) 3. Do you know of any broncodilators that are not contraindicated when using a beta blocker? 4. If you had a patient with copd, what would you prescribe for the hypertension and PVC`c?

I`m confused to say the least and would really appreciate another opinion.


You are right that beta blockers can interfere with the effect of bronchodilators.  No beta blocker is completely selective, and beta blockers should not be used in people with bronchospasms.

In you case, you can consider switching from atenolol to diltiazem.  Diltiazem is a calcium channel blocker that lowers blood pressure, heart rate and reduces the risk for premature ventricular contractions.  Diltiazem has no effect on the lungs.

You should discuss these drugs with your physician.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati