Q My doctor has prescribed a beta-blocker for my high blood pressure. Since this affects my heart rate, is it okay to run while taking it?
A Relax. You can run, race and do speedwork on beta-blockers. These are common drugs prescribed for high blood pressure (hypertension). They are also used to treat chest pain (angina) from narrowed coronary arteries and to prevent second heart attacks in heart attack survivors. They can also help prevent migraine headaches.
Beta-blockers block the receptor for adrenaline, thereby slightly reducing your resting heart rate and more markedly reducing your heart rate during exercise. The major side effect is that they can induce or aggravate asthma in susceptible patients.
But heres the thing: beta-blockers do limit how fast your heart can beat, so your performance will suffer, especially at faster paces. Some athletes say it feels as if theyre running in mud or at altitude. The effect may go away with time, but if it doesnt, ask your doctor about a different blood-pressure treatment.
Paul Thompson, cardiologist