Cochrane corner: beta-blockers for hypertension
Wiysonge, Charles S.
Bradley, Hazel A.
Mayosi, Bongani M.
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Beta-blockers refer to an assorted group of medications that block the action of endogenous catecholamines on beta-adrenergic receptors.1 The β1 and β2 receptors are the primary beta-adrenergic receptors in the human cardiovascular system. Beta-blockers differ in their β1/β2-receptor selectivity and vasodilatory properties. Based on this diversity, beta-blockers have been categorised into first, second and third generation. First-generation beta-blockers, also referred to as non-selective blockers, possess equal affinity for β1 and β2 receptors. Second-generation (or selective) beta-blockers exercise more affinity for β1 than β2 receptors. Neither of these traditional beta-blockers has vasodilatory properties, which is an intrinsic characteristic of third-generation beta-blockers.2 Beta-blockers have been known to play a role in blood pressure control since 1949.3 We summarise the findings of a Cochrane Review we published in 2017 on the comparative effects of beta-blockers as initial treatment for hypertension.4 This is an update of a review we first published 10 years ago.5–7