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Am J Pharm Educ. 2007 Oct 15;71(5):95.

Antianginal actions of beta-adrenoceptor antagonists.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105, USA.


Angina pectoris is usually the first clinical sign of underlying myocardial ischemia, which results from an imbalance between oxygen supply and oxygen demand in the heart. This report describes the pharmacology of beta-adrenoceptor antagonists as it relates to the treatment of angina. The beta-adrenoceptor antagonists are widely used in long-term maintenance therapy to prevent acute ischemic episodes in patients with chronic stable angina. Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists competitively inhibit the binding of endogenous catecholamines to beta1-adrenoceptors in the heart. Their anti-ischemic effects are due primarily to a reduction in myocardial oxygen demand. By decreasing heart rate, myocardial contractility and afterload, beta-adrenoceptor antagonists reduce myocardial workload and oxygen consumption at rest as well as during periods of exertion or stress. Predictable adverse effects include bradycardia and cardiac depression, both of which are a direct result of the blockade of cardiac beta1-adrenoceptors, but adverse effects related to the central nervous system (eg, lethargy, sleep disturbances, and depression) may also be bothersome to some patients. Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists must be used cautiously in patients with diabetes mellitus, peripheral vascular disease, heart failure, and asthma or other obstructive airway diseases. Beta-adrenoceptor antagonists may be used in combination with nitrates or calcium channel blockers, which takes advantage of the diverse mechanisms of action of drugs from each pharmacologic category. Moreover, concurrent use of beta-adrenoceptor antagonists may alleviate the reflex tachycardia that sometimes occurs with other antianginal agents.


angina; myocardial ischemia; pharmacology; β-adrenoceptor antagonists

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