Can Beta blockers cause shortness of breath?

Dr. T Ask Doctor T 3 Comments

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,

Dr T,

Comments 3

  1. Why is the shortness of breath from beta blockers something I had to work out myself? Don’t doctor’s, even cardiologists, know that can be a side effect?

  2. I have tried both Atenolol and Metorpolol with the same negative result. Both cause extreme breathlessness upon even the simplest exertional effort on my part-a simple walk to the bathroom can make me gasp for air. Yes. I am asthmatic.

    Is there another product that will work for me, and reduce the incidence of ectopy?

  3. i have been experiencing breathlessness , my gp took me off metoprolol for a month to see if that improved things , i hope im not in danger of heart problems whilst off the drug, iv been on it for two years

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.