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Tired on beta-blocker.

Reader: My cardiologist has me taking a beta-blocker, atenolol, for high blood pressure. My problem is that atenolol slows my heart rate. I cannot even get it up to 100 when exercising. The slower heart rate makes me feel tired. This seems counterproductive.

When I took an ACE inhibitor, I felt energetic. Can you explain the thinking on this?

Dr. Zipes: Drugs like atenolol, a so-called beta-blocker, block some of the adrenaline-like actions on the heart, and that can cause fatigue. However, numerous studies have shown that the adrenaline-like effects can be harmful in certain individuals having certain heart problems, leading to increased mortality. In these situations, the beta-blockers improve survival. Often, starting at lower dose and gradually increasing it over time can avoid the fatigue. Beta-blockers can be combined with an ACE inhibitor. Do not suddenly stop taking the beta-blocker without telling your doctor, as that can be harmful.

Internationally acclaimed cardiologist, professor, author and inventor, Dr. Douglas P. Zipes contributes to The Saturday Evening Post magazine as a featured columnist in "Heart Health." Dr. Zipes, an authority on what is called pacing and electrophysiology (rhythms of the heart), hosts a "heart to heart" discussion about your heart-felt concerns. Contents are not intended to substitute for medical attention from a physician.

Please send questions to: Dr. Douglas Zipes, SatEvePost, 1100 Waterway Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46202.
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Title Annotation:HEART HEALTH: ASK DR. ZIPES: a noted cardiologist answers your questions.
Author:Zipes, Douglas P.
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
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