Can Beta blockers cause shortness of breath?

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Submitted by Dr T on November 7, 2010 – 12:58pm


Yes. Beta (β) blockers stop the action of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) on your lungs.  Adrenaline helps to relax the small airways of your lungs and make breathing easier. With adrenaline blocked, you may experience symptoms similar to asthma, such as wheezing and trouble breathing.

Beta-blockers present thus difficulties for patients with asthma. They can also block the effect of medications used to treat asthma. For this reason, I would try to avoid using them in those conditions.

If needed in an asthmatic patient, which may be required for certain cardiac conditions such as arrhythmia , it is best to use a “cardio-selective” Beta (β) blocker. These act primarily on the heart and have less effect on your lungs. Atenolol is one of those that have been safely used in asthmatic patients.

You can read more about this here:

Hope this helps,


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