Start of Main Content

Most common beta blockers in 2023

Share this post

Beta blockers are one of the most used classes of drugs in the world. Originally widely prescribed for hypertension and contraindicated for the treatment of heart failure, their role in treating these conditions has changed over time. Today, beta blockers are no longer recommended as a first-line treatment for hypertension, but play an important role in treating many cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure. In this blog, we share the most commonly prescribed beta blockers so far in 2023.  

What are beta blockers?

Beta-adrenergic blocking agents, also known as beta blockers, are a class of drugs that are primarily used to treat cardiovascular diseases and other associated conditions, including:

  • Tachycardia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Hypertension

Beta blockers block the effects of the hormone adrenaline (epinephrine) and the related stress hormone, norepinephrine, on the heart and blood vessels. This can have several beneficial effects: By slowing a patient’s heart rate, beta blockers make it easier for the heart to contract, as well as relax blood vessels in both the heart and brain, improving blood flow.

What are beta blockers prescribed for?

Physicians primarily prescribe beta blockers to treat cardiac arrhythmias, also called abnormal heart rhythms. The drugs can also treat patients after a heart attack, improving survival rates and reducing the risk of subsequent heart attacks.

Beta blockers are successful because they reduce the amount of oxygen required by the heart muscle, decreasing the strain put on the heart to pump blood. Beta blockers also eliminate symptoms such as angina (chest pain), shortness of breath, nausea, and weakness.

Beta blockers are also prescribed for uses other than heart-related illnesses. These drugs can prevent migraines by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. Physicians also prescribe beta blockers for glaucoma patients to reduce the pressure in the eye by reducing the production of eye fluid.

In the list below, we use data from the Definitive Healthcare Atlas Prescription Claims dataset to rank the top 10 most prescribed beta blockers dispensed to U.S. patients in 2023 YTD.

Top 10 beta blockers prescriptions dispensed in 2023 YTD


Fig. 1  Data comes from the Definitive Healthcare Atlas Prescription Claims dataset for the calendar year 2023 YTD (through August). Data accessed in September 2023.

What is the most common beta blocker?

In 2023 YTD, metoprolol succinate topped the list of beta blockers prescriptions most commonly dispensed to patients, making up 36.9% of all dispensed beta blocker prescriptions in the U.S. Commonly known as Toprol-XL, this drug is an extended-release medication that can be taken once a day.

What are the top five most common beta blockers?

After metoprolol succinate, the second most common beta blocker in 2023 YTD was metoprolol tartrate, commonly known as Lopressor. It made up 18.2% of all dispensed beta blocker prescriptions. This drug is an immediate-release medication taken several times during the day and is commonly used to treat arrhythmia and angina and prevent heart attacks.

Though they are similar in that they both treat high blood pressure and chest pain, metoprolol succinate and metoprolol tartrate differ in the frequency which they are taken and how quickly the medication works. Metoprolol succinate is taken once a day and is longer-acting while metoprolol tartrate is taken at least twice a day and is short-acting.

The third most common beta blocker, making up 17.5% of all 2023 YTD dispensed beta blocker prescriptions, was carvedilol. Commonly known as Coreg, it is used to treat heart failure and hypertension and may also be prescribed after a heart attack that has caused decreases in heart-pumping strength.

Atenolol, commonly known as Tenormin, was the fourth most common beta blocker in 2023 YTD. Making up 8.3% of all dispensed beta blocker prescriptions, atenolol affects blood flow and is used to treat hypertension and angina, as well as lower the risk of death following a heart attack.

In fifth place was propranolol HCL, making up 7.8% of all dispensed beta blocker prescriptions in 2023 YTD. This beta blocker, commonly known as Inderal LA, is used to treat various heart and circulation-related problems such as angina, hypertension, heart rhythm disorders, and tremors. It is also commonly prescribed for heart attack prevention and to treat severe migraines.

What are the side effects of beta blockers?

Despite their many beneficial applications, beta blockers can lead to several adverse effects. The blockade of beta receptors with beta blocker drugs can cause bradycardia (slow heart rate) and hypotension (low blood pressure). Patients also report fatigue, dizziness, and nausea, among other side effects.

Specific beta blockers are not advised in certain patients, depending on their medical history. Traditionally, beta blockers have been contraindicated in asthmatic patients. However, beta blockers that only target the heart (cardio-selective beta blockers) can generally be used in patients with asthma.

Learn more

Looking to reach healthcare providers? With healthcare commercial intelligence from the Definitive Healthcare platform, you’ll get access to the information and insights necessary to find the providers who can benefit from your business and tailor your messaging to their unique needs. Start a free trial today and get the latest data on hospitals, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

  • Blog
  • Most Common Beta Blockers In 2023