Special considerations 

Before taking beta-blockers, make sure your doctor is aware of any other conditions you have, because they may not be suitable to use.

When to avoid them

You should usually avoid taking beta-blockers if you have:

  • a history of asthma  beta-blockers are occasionally used in people with these conditions, but only under careful supervision
  • heart block  where the heart beats slower than usual
  • severe narrowing of the arteries to the legs or arms

Make sure your doctor is aware if you have a history of allergic reaction to any medication.

Using them with caution

Beta-blockers should be used with caution if you have:

  • diabetes  particularly if you have frequent episodes of low blood sugar
  • myasthenia gravis  a condition that causes muscle weakness 
  • slow heart rate
  • phaeochromocytoma  high blood pressure caused by a tumour of the adrenal gland
  • Prinzmetal's angina  a type of chest pain 

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Some beta-blockers may be suitable for use in some stages of pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

Your GP can advise you about which medicine to use if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.

Stopping beta-blockers

You shouldn't stop taking beta-blockers without first consulting a doctor who is aware of your medical conditions. Suddenly stopping the medicine may cause your condition to get worse.

Page last reviewed: 30/06/2014

Next review due: 30/06/2016