Technische Universität München

The Entrepreneurial University

Beta-blockers can be used to treat some types of heart disease. They are a type of drug used for several indications, but particularly for the management of cardiac arrhythmias and cardioprotection after myocardial infarction. Beta-blockers improve the heart's ability to relax, decrease the production of harmful substances produced by the body in response to heart failure and slow the heart rate.

Norepinephrine is the major neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system and it is released into the periphery upon activation of the sympathetic nervous system. Beta-blockers are drugs that bind to beta-adrenoceptors and thereby block the binding of norepinephrine and epinephrine to these receptors. I.e. beta-blockers avoid the activation of these receptors and in consequence catecholamines can not carry out their function.  

Propanolol was the first clinically useful beta-blocker (beta adrenergic receptor antagonist). It is considered to be one of the most important contributions to clinical medicine and pharmacology of the 20th century.