Close to half of American adults have hypertension, which can lead to comorbidities such as heart disease and strokes. Only about a quarter of adults with hypertension have the condition under control. In addition to lifestyle changes, medication can be an important part of managing hypertension.
What are beta blockers?
Beta-adrenergic blocking agents, more commonly referred to as beta blockers, are a class of drugs that protect the heart by blocking the effects of stress hormones such as adrenaline. Beta blockers can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of multiple heart attacks.
By slowing a patient’s heartbeat, 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.
According to the Mayo Clinic, beta blockers are often used to treat patients when other medications, such as diuretics, haven’t worked well.
Once a physician decides a beta blocker is the best option, they’ll typically prescribe it in conjunction with another medication, such as an ACE inhibitor. ACE inhibitors relax veins and arteries and decrease blood volume, complementing the effects of a beta blocker.
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 2022.
Top 10 beta blockers prescriptions dispensed in 2022
||Percent of beta blocker prescriptions dispensed in the U.S.
||Propranolol Hcl Er
Fig. 1 Data comes from the Definitive Healthcare Atlas Prescription Claims dataset for the calendar year 2022. Data accessed in June 2023.
What is the most common beta blocker?
In 2022, metoprolol succinate topped the list of beta blockers prescriptions most commonly dispensed to patients, making up 35.7% 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 2022 was metoprolol tartrate, commonly known as Lopressor. It made up 19.1% 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 2022 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 2022. Making up 8.9% 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 7.5% of all dispensed beta blocker prescriptions in 2022. 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.
The top five dispensed beta blocker prescriptions in the U.S. were the same between calendar years 2021 and 2022.
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