Living with beta blockers

Hi allan 41 from edinburgh here.

I had dual chamber pacemaker fitted in October last year for sinus bradycardia and intermitent bouts of a-fib.

I cannot seem to get used to beta blocker atenlol -


Is it normal to feel shattered all the time on beta blockers/

Is it normal for the colour to drain from your face I feel a look pale all the time now.
Also I started waking up in the morning with pins and needles in my little fingers and now it is progressed to hardly being able to feel my hands at all?
I have lived with afib on and off for 6 years so I am wondering is my life better going back to life before beta blockers? but the flip side of that is if i was to carry on having sustained attacks of afib when I was asleep i would still wake up tired anyway not to mention the risk of a stroke.

I guess what I am really asking is there anyone out there who has managed to fight through the effects of beta blockers and get used to it.

I dont feel I can ask my gp there attitude is kind of well you have your pacemaker and medication so just live with it.

sorry guys just feeling sorry for myself -most of the time I am ok it is just sometimes the future seems bleak I guess the most frustrating thing is finding a difinitive answer and at 41 i certainly dont want to give up but i just dont know what to try next


There should be choices...

by Swedeheart - 2008-03-30 01:03:00

Before my PM.... and quite a few years ago... I was on a beta-blocker because of migraine headaches. After a year or so I complained to my neurologist that I couldn't remember when I woke up and felt happy. It was a slow and insidious change. He took me off the blocker. I struggled with my migraines for a long time, but it was better than feeling depressed all the time.

Everyone responds differently to different beta blockers. There are quite a few different ones on the market and your doctor should be willing to allow you to try and see what will work best for you. I take toporol and some folks have trouble with it, but it doesn't give me nearly the same affects that my previous betablocker did. You shouldn't feel that awful... ask your doctor again, and if he/she doesn't accommodate you ~ find another.

Good luck!


different meds

by aldeer - 2008-03-30 01:03:51

I had been on beta blockers for several years and they always left me feeling so very tired. I have been on diltiazem for several years now (my pm is only eight months old) and feel so much better. There were many meds I had to try before finding the right one. Lots of good luck that you will find one to help. aldeer


by bowlrbob - 2008-03-30 07:03:44

I also am on atenolol and when my Dr. first gave it to mr he put me on 50m. I could harley move so i just quit taking it. I did not know you wern't supposed to do that. But i felt awful. Just like you said. I tried a coupe of others but they didn't work so I am back on atenolol. This time 25m. This has been much better. Feel very little side effects and it is dioing what is needed. So you might ask about cutting back the dosage. Bowlrbob

Beat Blockers

by SMITTY - 2008-03-30 12:03:14


Some of your reaction to the beta blocker is different from mine. I haven't had the pins and needles feeling, thank goodness. But beta blockers (I have tried 8 or 9 different ones over the years) without fail cause me to feel about the same as if I have the flu. Tired, rundown, worn-out, don't want to movefeeling. In general I guess you could say they make me feel worthless. So you are not alone with undesirable reactions to a beta blocker. I have had very little success in getting my doctors to agree to my stopping the things. This means I make my own decision and stop taking it. However, I can never recommend that anyone follow in my footsteps as I have other medications I can fall back on. The last time I had a BB prescribed it was to slow my heart rate to a very low rate and let my pacemaker take over with the speed control. The thought was that with my heart's natural pacemaker being taken out of the picture by the beta blocker irregular heart beat would stop and my pacemaker would keep everything working as it should. Didn't work so I went back to a medicine I have taking since the mid-80's.

There is one bit of hope on the irregular heart beat. For reasons unknown to me, a regular and stable heart rate does return on its own, or at least it has for me during the 25+ years I have been plagued with the problem. It is sort of like it has a mind of its own and comes and goes as it pleases. I can't truthfully say that my pacemaker has ever made one iota of difference with the irregular heart rate.

I must add here though, my pacemaker may have saved my life after one severe A-Fib attack. That one was so bad that I passed out from lack of blood flow and when the A-Fib subsided my heart rate went to low and the pacemaker kept my heart beating.

I guess what it all comes down to is I have no recommendation for you, but I can sympathize with you. And you will have to lean on your doctor for help and hope for Mother Nature to step in and make things better.

Good luck,


Beta Blockers

by Tessy - 2008-03-30 12:03:26

Hi Allan

I had my dual pacemaker fitted on 29 January at Harefiled hospital just outside London. I have similar problems to you. My heart beat is and always has been slow, and a mobile heart monitor discovered that I I was missing a beat throughout the nights. Since having the pacemaker I have had two episodes of a-fib. After the first one, 12 February I saw the GP the following day and he put be on Beta Blockers. I tried them for a week, I was ok. When I returned the following week to see my GP he increased the dose from 1.25mg to 2.50 mg. I carried on with the 1.25mg as I didn't want to increase the dose as I started to feel like a zombie, felt really tired didn't want to go out etc. When I had a follow up appointment with the my Cardiologist on 5 March. He took me off Beta Blockers and put me on Aspirin. He said if my quality of life was affected by the BB then they were defeating the object. He told me if I had any more dizzy spells or a-fib again to go straight to the hospital where I would be given one injection and that would sort me out. Not sure what I would do if I was on holiday mind!!

I had my second a-fib last Monday 24th. It just started about 10pm. I had tightness down the front of my neck and chest and a-fib. The a-fib carried on throughout the night. I had my grand daughter staying so didn't go to the hospital, but I was ok the next morning. I will see at the pacing clinic if they can tell me what happened on that day.

Only you and the Cardiologist can make a decision about Beta Blockers, he could offer you another type, or perhaps suggest Aspirin. The one I was on was Cardicor Bisoprolol. I know some people are fine on them and do well. I am much better now. Not happy about the litle episode last Monday, but see how things go. I may have to go back on some time of Beta Blokers in the future, as there are differnt types.

There are alternatives

by winesap - 2008-03-30 12:03:34

I dealt with Beta Blocker side effects for a couple years. The pulse rate depression effect was likely a contributing factor to my episode last December that resulted in my PM surgery. After multiple discussions I was able to convince my EP to prescribe alternate medication for my hypertension. I have a follow-up appointment on Thursday. The new drugs seem to be doing what is necessary with fewer side effects. Demand that the Dr work with you to identify medication that does what is necessary with minimum side-effects.

Beta Blockers

by turboz24 - 2008-03-30 12:03:57

Your doctor should be willing to work with you on your treatement so it least affects your life. My previous doctor had the same attitude, just live with being dragged down by the drugs, so I dumped that doctor. I feel that a lot of doctors just don't want to put in a lot of effort in your treatment and if the drug isn't killing you physically, but is mentally, that's still fine. Well, it isn't.

Most betablockers have a side effect of causing cold hands/feet because of reduced circulation to extremities. They can also cause depression.

I'm currently on Sotalol, which has a betablocker component and I also dislike it. It causes some depression and other issues. I"m hoping in the next month to get totally off it, remain on a small dose, or possibly swap to another drug. I communicated my dislike of the drug and over the next month+, my new doctor is going to work to get me off.

Living with beta blockers

by Vai - 2008-03-31 02:03:31

Similar diagnosis as yours - implanted with medtronic dual lead implant to address sick sinus syndrome (bradycardia) and prescribed with beta blockers to manage frequent episodes of afib.

I have tried amidarone (got off it because of negative side effects), atenolol and then now sotalol. You need to find a right dosage to manage the afib and yet maintain that balance in quality of life. Fortunately for me, I have found that balance. I am on 80 mg twice daily Sotalol. I have suffered none of the side effects such as cold extremities - instead I have warm hands. I can tolerate cold weather well. I do not feel sluggish or heavy on my feet. My only side effects seem to be getting tired and running short of breath quickly (no stamina) when I jog. My regimen - keep fit as best as I can, keep a simple exercise regimen, use the gym regularly, lose some weight, walk a lot, breathing exercise, sleep well and rest well. I need the medication and don't think I can get off it. On any given day, I can feel the onset of an afib beginning within 4 hours of missing a dose.
In summary, each of us will respond differently to the BB medication. It is a bane to many but I thought I wanted to share how it can help as well.

Best of luck in finding a solution.

Toprol seems to be the favorite

by axg9504 - 2008-03-31 08:03:16

among EP's. The first EP I went to who made a mistaken diagnosis of afib for me, precribed it with some relish (regardless of my apprehensions). My apprehensions were correct, it was a disaster, so was Rythmol and Flecainide. Before my PM was implanted my current EP indicated I would need a BB and once again he thought of Toprol first till I corrected him, at least he was willing to change the BB till I found one that was tolerated. Didn't have to because his very first prescription of Inderal (80 mg once a day) seems to have done the job. It has helped with my BP that was creeping up, controlled the junctional rhythm that I used to get when I started to exercise and it really doesn't have any effects that I can complain about. I think it slows the metabolism down because I can't seem to lose weight. When I leave the gym sweating and go out into a slightly cooler room I feel more cold than I used to.

I think I do feel a little sluggish when I first go to the gym and start my run/walk but after a while I feel a lot better and at the end of my routine I'm almost on a high sometimes.

I don't think you should have pins and needles in your fingers froma BB, but I'm not sure. This could also be a symptom of disc pressure in your neck. I know because I had this some years ago and very nearly had to have surgery. Luckily an epidural (medicine delivered by injection to reduce inflammation) took care of it. In my case one of my cervical disc got inflamed and put pressure on nerves in my right arm and I lost strength. Worse, I didn't know about this till I tried to do my usual dumbell bench press and the weight in my right hand just fell from my hand. It also hurt down my right side.

Hate them

by gmnordy - 2008-03-31 10:03:49

I have so many side effects on beta blockers. I do not seem to be able to tolerate any of them and they have tried me on at least 20. I am taking Toprol XL right now, and for me it is not a good choice. However, my EP said I needed to give it more time than just a month or so (that is when I stopped taking most) because you do feel badly for a while on them and then you feel better or adjust to them. I really havent found that to be true, I get very pale and my bp lowers and I have a lot of syncope and near syncope on them. EP says it is my v-tach adn SVT acting up. Dont know. I do have an EP study April 11 so we shall see.
I hope you can get past all the side effects.

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