Millions of Americans reach daily for that small vial of hope, the prescriptive aid known as beta-blockers. Many people turn to these medicinal aids, naively believing they protect their hearts. Indeed, doctors dispense these prescriptions like candy, promising they will help to lower blood pressure, reduce heart palpitations, or even soothe a racing heart.
The answer, in a nutshell, is yes: Beta-blockers lower heart rate. But, as with all medicines, this ability does not come without a price. These medications have their fair share of side effects, some downright dangerous.
Furthermore, while beta-blockers may temporarily relieve the symptoms, the root cause of these heart maladies remains untouched. Like a hidden iceberg lurking beneath calm waters, the obstacle is still there, even if it’s now hidden. A high heart rate is merely a distress signal, and its suppression without treating the underlying condition masks a more serious issue.
So, let’s look deeper at beta-blockers, exploring their true impact on our bodies and investigating safer and more natural alternatives.
So, how exactly do these beta-blockers go about their business? The mechanics are rather fascinating. The story begins with cell receptors- consider them the welcoming committee for specific chemicals in our bodies. Like a lock welcomes its right key, these receptors bind with certain chemicals, sparking a reaction within the cell. This biological dance forms the foundation of how many medications, beta-blockers included, conduct their operations.
Beta-blockers take center stage with adrenergic receptors, their primary performance area. These receptors, named after adrenaline, are like the body’s natural speed dial, modulating a range of functions when activated by this neurotransmitter. Beta-blockers act as antagonists to these receptors, essentially sticking a broken key in the lock, preventing the activation of the receptors and slowing down cell activity.
These beta receptors are not one-size-fits-all. Much like a team of specialists, each type of beta receptor has its own domain and duties. They come in three flavors:
● Beta-1 (B1)
B1 receptors dwell in the heart and kidneys, boosting heart rate, increasing heart pumping force, and releasing a key enzyme called renin.
● Beta-2 (B2)
B2 receptors, inhabiting smooth muscle tissue, are more versatile, influencing respiratory function, blood pressure, liver glucose conversion, heart activity, and muscle tremors.
● Beta-3 (B3)
B3 receptors, taking up residence in fat cells and the bladder, mediate fat breakdown and bladder relaxation, but can also cause tremors.
Given the wide distribution of these beta receptors, beta-blockers are prescribed for various different health conditions, mostly heart-related, including:
- Arrhythmias, such as AFib
- Angina (chest pain)
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Tachycardia (high heart rate)
- Aortic dissection
They are also often used off-label to prevent migraines, treat anxiety, and reduce tremors.
Beta-blockers work primarily through their interactions with Beta-1 (B1) receptors. These receptors are scattered throughout the heart, and when they spring into action they put the heart into overdrive. They rev up the heart rate and augment the power behind each heartbeat, much like the effect of flooring the gas pedal of a car—increasing both the pace and the force.
However, beta-blockers function like a brake pedal when they enter the scene. These drugs attach themselves to the B1 receptors, blocking them from being activated by adrenaline. Consequently, this hinders the surge in heart rate and reins in the heart’s pumping power. The outcome is a heart that beats with a measured pace and diminished force, lessening the overall burden it bears.
You may be wondering how much beta-blockers actually lower the heart rate. Recent studies show that beta-blockers typically reduce the heart rate by approximately 10-12 beats per minute. However, it’s essential to underscore that this offers mere symptomatic relief. Beta-blockers slow down a racing heart, but they fail to tackle the root issue propelling the increased heart rate in the first place.
While beta-blockers may slow the heart, their influence pushes beyond desired bounds. The human body counts on a surge of adrenaline, the very hormone these drugs suppress, for key physiological functions. It’s like a turbo boost for the body, igniting energy production, ramping up heart rate and blood pressure, and heightening alertness—all vital for dealing with stress or danger.
However, curbing this natural response with beta-blockers comes with drawbacks. An array of side effects tag along, ranging from daily nuisances to more grave health concerns. These include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Diminished sexual desire
- Digestive upset like nausea, constipation, or diarrhea
- Sleep disturbances
- Mood problems
- Anxiety or depression
- Erectile dysfunction
- Weight gain
- Increased blood glucose
- Breathing difficulties, such as bronchospasm
Yet, the more serious downsides lurk in the shadows of their primary action—heart regulation. Beta-blockers can potentially slow the heart rate too much, leading to bradycardia, the medical term for low heart rate. They can also lower blood pressure excessively, resulting in hypotension. In certain scenarios, beta-blockers could even exacerbate heart failure or cause heart block, a serious issue where the heart beats irregularly or stops altogether.
Achieving a naturally healthy heart rate involves addressing the root cause of inflammation causing the issue. These causes can include:
- Poor diet
- Dehydration or electrolyte imbalances
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of sunlight exposure
- Inadequate sleep
- Excessive stress
- Body toxins
- Spinal subluxations
- Poor dental health
- Medication side effects
By understanding the triggers of an abnormal heart rate, you can take actionable steps toward a healthier heart. The best way to do this is to follow the NHD tenants of Eat Well, Live Well, Think Well.
● Eat Well
Eating well is a journey back to our roots, embodying the dietary habits of our ancestors:
- Consume organic, nutrient-dense foods like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, and wild-caught seafood.
- Eat nose to nail, which includes consuming organ meats, as tolerated.
- Focus on whole foods, including nuts and seeds, which are powerhouses of nutrients.
- Eliminate processed foods, refined sugars, grains, gluten, and GMOs that contribute to inflammation.
- Avoid foods laden with pesticides and chemicals.
● Live Well
Living well is about balance and mindful practices:
- Get sufficient quality sleep, about 7 to 9 uninterrupted hours each night.
- Exercise regularly, preferably in natural settings for sun exposure, which provides essential vitamin D.
- Keep your environment clean and free from environmental toxins and mold mycotoxins.
- Avoid electrosmog, limiting electronic use, and reducing exposure to WiFi, Bluetooth, and other forms of radiation.
- Maintain your spinal health with regular chiropractic care.
- Collaborate with a holistic dentist to address dental health, a vital part of systemic wellness.
● Think Well
Mental wellness is crucial in maintaining a healthy heart rate:
- Cultivate a peaceful mental space and learn to manage stress.
- Nurture positive relationships and set boundaries against toxic ones.
- Engage in activities that bring you joy and passion.
- Practice gratitude and positivity in your everyday life.
Embracing these natural alternatives to beta-blockers can holistically address the underlying causes of heart issues, presenting a comprehensive approach to heart health.
Experiencing a high heart rate can be unnerving, but it’s vital to remember that it’s a signal from your body that can be deciphered and addressed. If you’re struggling with a high heart rate, consider this: the root causes are often similar to those behind high blood pressure. In fact, these two conditions often walk hand-in-hand.
Therefore, we recommend enrolling in our comprehensive high blood pressure course. Not only is it tailored to tackle high blood pressure, but it also targets the underlying issues contributing to your elevated heart rate. This well-structured program includes:
- A seven-part training course designed to lower blood pressure naturally, focusing on root causes and effective management strategies.
- Done-for-you meal plans, streamlining your journey towards a healthier diet that supports heart health.
- Detailed resource lists and learning guides to assist your understanding and progress.
- Dedicated health coaches, available to provide personalized guidance and support.
- Bonus sessions and advanced trainings for a deeper dive into heart health and wellness.
- Lifetime access, ensuring you can revisit and review the materials at your own pace and as needed.
Of course, we understand that a structured program may not be the ideal solution for everyone. Individual needs vary widely, and personalized attention can often yield more significant results. For those who prefer a one-on-one approach, we offer the option to work directly with a dedicated health coach.
Our skilled professionals are ready to provide guidance tailored to help you lower your heart rate without beta blockers. To help gauge if this is the right choice for you, we offer a free 20-minute health consultation. This session is aimed specifically at those looking to lower their heart rate, providing insight into our personalized approach and how it can assist you on your journey to your 100 year heart.