Difference Between Alpha and Beta Blockers (With Table)

Note: To see the current Epic Deals on Amazon, Click Here

Alpha and Beta blockers are medications that help regulate blood pressure levels in the body. Essentially, they are blocking agents that assist the veins in facilitating a smoother flow of blood. Such supplements are helpful for tackling hypertension. However, there are major differences between the two in terms of how they work.

Alpha vs Beta Blockers

The difference between Alpha and Beta blockers is that alpha blockers cause a relaxing effect in the muscles which leads to smooth blood circulation as they help blood vessels to open up. On the other hand, beta blockers cause a reduction in heart rate which further causes the blood flow to slow down. In this case, the blood vessels widen expand as well.

Alpha blockers are antagonists for catecholamines in the body. These are a class of hormones that include norepinephrine or noradrenaline. Such medications are helpful in the treatment of diseases such as hypertension, erectile dysfunction, BPH and even Raynaud’s disease. Their primary function is to bind with receptors present in arteries and certain muscles.

Beta blockers are another kind of antagonist that works on epinephrine or adrenaline. However, unlike the former, they work on controlling the heart rhythm of the body. These medications are useful for the treatment of hypertension, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. However,  beta blockers are not always the first choice for such problems.

Comparison Table Between Alpha and Beta Blockers

Parameters of ComparisonAlpha BlockersBeta Blockers
FunctionThe function of alpha blockers is to lower blood pressure by relaxing the muscles which leads to smooth blood circulation.The function of beta blockers is to lower blood pressure by controlling the heart rhythm, which leads to a slower blood flow rate.
HormonesIt works on norepinephrine or noradrenaline.It works on epinephrine or adrenaline.
MechanismIt only controls the blood pressure level in the body.It controls the blood pressure level as well as heart rate.
Effect on WeightThe medication does not cause any weight gain in users.The medication may cause weight gain in users.
UsesIt is used to treat hypertension, erectile dysfunction, BPH and even Raynaud’s disease.It is used to treat hypertension, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

What is Alpha Blockers?

Alpha blockers are antagonists that work on the hormone noradrenaline. This hormone is responsible for the tightening of muscles which restricts blood circulation. The blockers stop the production of the chemical and thus prevent it from doing so. It causes a relaxing effect on muscles which further leads to smooth blood flow.

The medication is available in two classifications – short-acting blockers and long-acting blockers. As the name suggests, short-acting blockers do the job in a quick manner, but the effect is not long-lasting. The symptoms begin to pop back only a few hours after use. On the other hand, long-acting blockers take time to work on the body, but they have a long-lasting effect on the patient.

Some examples of these kinds of supplements include terazosin, prazosin, and doxazosin. However, there are certain risks involved in their use. They may cause side effects such as weakness, dizziness, abnormal heartbeat, headaches, and confusion. Therefore, it is always advisable to use them when prescribed by a medical professional.

Moreover, these medications are not always the first choice for the treatment of such diseases. Doctors often use diuretics which generally work much more effectively. However, in cases where the blood pressure is too difficult to control, alpha blockers may be prescribed in combination with other medicines.

What is Beta Blockers?

Like alpha blockers, beta blockers work as antagonists but for adrenaline. The way they function is different as well. Even though these medications aim at blood pressure, their mechanism includes controlling the heart rate as well. Primarily, they control abnormal heart rhythms and lower the rate, which leads to the blood vessels opening. This smoothens blood circulation.

Beta blockers are useful in the treatment of hypertension, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases. Some medications that are beta blockers include bisoprolol, metoprolol, acebutolol, nebivolol, atenolol and propranolol. However, they can cause side effects such as fatigue, breathing problems, insomnia, chills and even depression.

A major factor that distinguishes beta blockers from the former, is that it causes weight gains in patients. Moreover, it is not the first choice of medication for blood pressure and other related problems. However, when other supplements fail to work, doctors often prescribe this along with other medications.

It was in 1964 when the first form of this medication was discovered by James Black. It was considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of medicine. Functionally, it was synthesized to work against beta receptors that are present in the cells of the heart muscles, kidneys, certain tissues, and arteries.

Main Differences Between Alpha and Beta Blockers

  1. The function of alpha blockers is to lower blood pressure by relaxing the muscles which leads to smooth blood circulation whereas that of beta blockers is to lower blood pressure by controlling the heart rhythm, which leads to a slower blood flow rate.
  2. Alpha blockers work on norepinephrine or noradrenaline whereas beta blockers work on epinephrine or adrenaline.
  3. Alpha blockers only control the blood pressure level in the body whereas beta blockers control the blood pressure level as well as heart rate.
  4. Alpha blockers do not cause any weight gain whereas beta blockers do.
  5. Alpha blockers are used to treat hypertension, erectile dysfunction, BPH and even Raynaud’s disease whereas beta blockers are used to treat hypertension, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Conclusion

Alpha and beta blockers are two antagonists that work on hormones in the body. While Alpha blockers work with noradrenaline, beta blockers work with adrenaline. A major difference between the two is the way in which they function. While alpha blockers aim at relaxing the muscles to facilitate a smoother flow of blood, beta blockers aim at decreasing the heart rate. However, both have a similar result which is a reduction in blood pressure levels.

Moreover, alpha blockers do not cause weight gain in patients while beta blockers do. While alpha blockers are used to treat hypertension and other blood pressure related problems, beta blockers are used to control abnormal heart rhythms and other cardiovascular diseases.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/10641969909061011
  2. https://www.bmj.com/content/288/6418/671.abstract
x
2D vs 3D