There are two types of beta receptors: β1_receptors located mainly in the heart, and β2_receptors located all over the body, but mainly in the lungs, muscles and arterioles.
Activition of β1-receptors by epinephrine increases the heart rate and the blood pressure, and the heart consumes more oxygen. Drugs that block these receptors therefore have the reverse effect: they lower the heart rate and blood pressure and hence are used in conditions when the heart itself is deprived of oxygen. They are routinely prescribed in patients with ischemic heart disease. In addition, beta blockers prevent the release of renin, which is a hormone produced by the kidneys which leads to constriction of blood vessels.
Although betablockers were once contraindicated in congestive heart failure, as they have the potential to worsen the condition, studies in the late 1990s showed their positive effects on morbidity and mortality in congestive heart failure (Hjalmarson, 2000; Leizorovicz, 2002; Packer, 2002).
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