Most prescribed beta blockers in the U.S.
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Close to half of American adults have hypertension, which can lead to co-morbidities 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 is a beta blocker medication?
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 rhythm. 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 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.
Several applications for beta blockers exist in addition to the treatment of heart-related illness. These drugs can prevent migraines by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain. Physicians also prescribe beta blockers for glaucoma patients in order to reduce the pressure in the eye by reducing the production of eye fluid.
In the lists below, we use data from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsRx product to review popular examples of beta blockers prescribed in 2021 and 2022.
Top 10 beta blockers by 2021 prescriptions
|Rank||Drug name||Number of prescriptions 2021|
|9||Bisoprolol fumarate and hydrochlorothiazide||673,068|
|10||Dorzolamide hydrochloride and timolol maleate||657,529|
Fig. 1 Data is from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsRx product for calendar year 2021. Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and is updated monthly. Data is accurate as of July 2022.
What is the most prescribed beta blocker?
The most prescribed beta-blocker medication in 2021 was metoprolol succinate with more than 18 million prescriptions. The drug is an extended-release medication that can be taken once a day.
Metoprolol tartrate has the second most prescriptions at around 11 million. It is an immediate-release medication taken several times during the day. Metoprolol tartrate is commonly used to treat arrhythmia and angina and is also very effective in preventing heart attacks, often given to patients in the hospital after their first heart attack to prevent subsequent episodes.
In addition to being taken orally, metoprolol tartrate can be given as an injection to treat angina and arrhythmia. Unlike metoprolol tartrate, metoprolol succinate is incapable of preventing future heart attacks, however, it is beneficial for people with specific types of heart failure.
Top 10 beta blockers by 2022 prescriptions
|Rank||Drug name||Number of prescriptions 2022 through June|
|8||Dorzolamide hydrochloride and timolol maleate||266,080|
|10||Bisoprolol fumarate and hydrochlorothiazide||254,460|
Fig. 2 Data is from the Definitive Healthcare ClaimsRx product for calendar year 2021. Claims data is sourced from multiple medical claims clearinghouses in the United States and is updated monthly. Data is accurate as of July 2022.
For both 2021 and 2022, the same top six beta blocker medications are the most prescribed. In addition to metoprolol succinate and metoprolol tartrate, common beta blockers also include:
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