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Drugs. 1984 May;27(5):425-46.

Use of beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs in hyperthyroidism.


There is an increasing use and variety of beta-adrenoceptor blocking agents (beta-blockers) available for the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Recent comparative studies suggest that atenolol (200mg daily), metoprolol (200mg daily); acebutolol (400mg daily), oxprenolol ( 160mg daily), nadolol ( 80mg daily) and timolol (20mg daily) produce a beneficial clinical response equal to that seen with propranolol ( 160mg daily). Most beta-blockers reduce resting heart rate by approximately 25 to 30 beats/min, although a lesser reduction is seen with those possessing intrinsic sympathomimetic activity such as oxprenolol and pindolol. While earlier studies employing large doses of intravenous propranolol concluded that beta-blockade reduced myocardial contractility, more recent non-invasive studies suggest that the predominant cardiac effect is on heart rate. In patients with cardiac failure, beta-blockers may, however, produce a profound fall in cardiac output. Nevertheless, in combination with digoxin they may be useful in controlling the atrial fibrillation of thyrocardiac disease. beta-Blockers improve nervousness and tremor (although to a lesser extent with cardioselective agents) and severe myopathy, and they also reduce the frequency of paralysis in patients with thyrotoxic periodic paralysis. There is often subjective improvement in sweating but usually no major effect on eye signs. Recent studies show a 10% reduction in oxygen consumption/basal metabolic rate with long term oral use of selective or nonselective beta-blockers. In addition, many agents (propranolol, metoprolol, nadolol and sotalol but not acebutolol, atenolol or oxprenolol) reduce circulating tri-iodothyronine (T3) concentration by between 10 and 40%, although the clinical significance of this effect (if any) is not established. beta-Blockers may also have endocrinological effects on gastrin, cyclic AMP, catecholamines and other hormone levels. Given in adequate dosage, propranolol has been shown to control thyrotoxic hypercalcaemia. Minor side effects (nausea, headaches, tiredness, etc.) are quite common but overall beta-blockers are well tolerated by the thyrotoxic patient. The major use of these drugs is in symptomatic control while awaiting definitive diagnosis or treatment. As an adjunct to antithyroid drugs or radioactive iodine, beta-blockers will produce a satisfactory clinical response in the weeks to months before these forms of therapy produce a euthyroid state. beta-Blockers are more convenient than antithyroid drugs in the control of patients receiving therapeutic radioiodine, in that continuous therapy and assessment of biochemical response is possible.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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