Individualized Beta-Blocker Treatment for High Blood Pressure Dictated by Medical Comorbidities: Indications Beyond the 2018 European Society of Cardiology/European Society of Hypertension Guidelines

Hypertension. 2022 Jun;79(6):1153-1166. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.19020. Epub 2022 Apr 5.


Several hypertension guidelines have removed beta-blockers from their previous position as first-choice drugs for the treatment of hypertension. However, this downgrading may not be justified by available evidence because beta-blockers lower blood pressure as effectively as other major antihypertensive drugs and have solid documentation in preventing cardiovascular complications. Suspected inconveniences of beta-blockers such as increased risk of depression or erectile dysfunction may have been overemphasized, while patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or peripheral artery disease, that is, conditions in which their use was previously restricted, will benefit from beta-blocker therapy. Besides, evidence that from early to late phases, hypertension is accompanied by activation of the sympathetic nervous system makes beta-blockers pathophysiologically an appropriate treatment in hypertension. Beta-blockers have favorable effects on a variety of clinical conditions that may coexist with hypertension, making their use either as specific treatment or as co-treatment potentially common in clinical practice. Guidelines typically limit recommendations on specific beta-blocker use to cardiac conditions including angina pectoris, postmyocardial infarction, or heart failure, with little or no mention of the additional cardiovascular or noncardiovascular conditions in which these drugs may be needed or preferred. In the present narrative review, we focus on multiple additional diseases and conditions that may occur and affect patients with hypertension, often more frequently than people without hypertension, and that may favor the choice of beta-blocker. Notwithstanding, beta-blockers represent an in-homogenous group of drugs and choosing beta-blockers with documented effect in prevention and treatment of disease is important for first choice in guidelines.

Keywords: antihypertensive drugs; beta-blockers; blood pressure; heart rate; hypertension.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cardiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension*
  • Male


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Antihypertensive Agents