Beta blockers

bwahl

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 22, 2018
105
13
18
Bismarck, ND
#1
Had a buddy take beta blockers before an archery shoot... After a "WTF" and a good laugh... I started wondering... Is this shit for real?
 

Arc Light

NRA Lifer/GOA Member
Aug 13, 2012
459
315
63
God's Country, Montana
#2
I took a beta blocker for one week...prescribed by my doctor for high blood pressure. I was like a zombie that week and told my dr. I’m done taking it. He prescribed something else.

It is not a recreational drug, it can fuck you up bad. And unlike most blood pressure meds, suddenly stopping can cause cardiac arrest. Anyone who would fuck around with beta blockers to slow down their heart rate for a hobby is a moron.
 
Likes: Bender

OH_FAL

New Hide Member
Jul 5, 2018
20
2
3
#3
Get in great shape and your heart rate will automatically become low enough not to be a major issue, otherwise I concur with the post above. After going through the AHA's ACLS course and learning to work codes, you realize that giving cardiac drugs is no joke and dangerous even within a hospital setting.
 

Apnea

learning
Sep 17, 2017
256
81
28
CA
#5
Freedivers lower heart rate at the surface prior to a dive by exhaling slowly (~15 sec) and inhaling again very quickly. Your heart rate will trend down during exhalation and rise a bit on inspiration. Repeated a few times can be pretty effective.
 

Sheldon N

Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut
Sep 24, 2014
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Pacific Northwest
#6
I know someone who is a cardiologist and went on big game hunts in Africa. He told me stories of taking a beta blocker on the day of the hunt, then when it came time to shoot he had steady hands and no racing heartbeat due to adrenaline. I laughed and thought it was kinda funny. If you read up on it more, there are Olympic pistol shooters who have been disqualified and stripped of their medals due to taking propranolol.

Agree that you wouldn't want to mess around with the stuff recreationally. I would also put it in the category of a performance enhancing drug and borderline cheating even if there are no rules against it for whatever competition you are shooting.
 

flyer

Sergeant of the Hide
Apr 25, 2018
1,179
495
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#8
Those are frequently used for stage fright and anxiety for things like fear of flying.

Taking them every day for a heart condition probably sucks but a healthy person taking it occasionally isn't terribly dangerous and probably would not give that zombie side effect.

Don't take with alcohol.

Their effect on long term mental trauma makes me think they should be in every first aid kit if people wouldn't abuse them.

Using them for archery is weird, he must have read Hunger Games too many times or something.

If I was on an African Safari and worried about Buck Fever, I might try it. An adrenaline dump isn't going to do anything for you if you're being chased by a hippo.
 

Strykervet

Resident Phoenix Eye and Dim Mak Instructor
Jun 5, 2011
2,961
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Pierce County, WA
#9
They can cause hypotension and you can black out and suffer other issues related to hypotension. Taking 'em randomly like that, not sure if they work. Most drugs require a steady state to do anything so you gotta be on 'em a while. I used to take metoprolol when I was closing in on metabolic syndrome; got my T right and weight fell off and so did all the reasons to take the meds. Taking benzodiazepines is a worse idea. It was used in a Metal Gear game years ago, so if you get shooting tips from a teenage Japanese video game designer, then I suppose it's a "thing". More likely is you will be more prone to errors and mistakes.

Here is what you do to shoot your best: don't change shit. ANY changes before or during shooting is a change not prepared for and it'll fuck you up. Any changes you wanna make need to be figured in over time, so that when you go to shoot, whatever it is you are doing, you've been doing it everyday for x weeks or months. Don't decide now is the time to get into shape, right before a match. Do it later. Don't start drinking coffee in the morning. Don't stop drinking coffee in the morning. No big changes. Get the idea?
 

MarkCO

Full Member
Dec 21, 2010
674
69
28
Colorado
www.CarbonArms.us
#10
There are reports of professional golfers, Olympic shooters, Pool players and Bowlers taking Beta Blockers to enhance performance. I think it is stupid and cheating. There was a story of a few USPSA shooters using them several years ago, but in hindsight, it might have been to counter the other drugs being used. If my heart rate did not go up when I see game, or on at least the first stage of a match, I would think there is something wrong with me.
 

flyer

Sergeant of the Hide
Apr 25, 2018
1,179
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#11
I think some people are conflating the long term side effects and reasons for long term use with the short term effects.

I have some very specific experience with epinephrine injections and also the feeling you get doing public speaking.

The adrenaline (nor epinephrine) has an immediate effect. A beta blocker blocks the epinephrine receptors and works over only a few hours so you would hope that it has an immediate effect but you'll only see it if you immediately put yourself in a situation where you would expect an adrenaline dump.

The effects like reduced blood pressure are the ones that you won't see immediately because you're probably not having adrenaline issues from taking a blood pressure test.

In terms of public speaking, it can give you flop sweat, shakes, wreck your concentration and make you talk too fast. I'm pretty sure it's the adrenaline. For me practice helped me reduce that probably 90%. It's still there but more under control. Practice at shooting matches will probably get you 90% under control but that last 10% is important when you are trying to perform with fine motor function.

Is it cheating? Maybe but if it's the difference between a gut shot animal and a clean kill, who cares?

Is it smart? If it has the desired effect, you don't suffer from side effects and you don't abuse it, why not?

If you want to go out and get a prescription just to shoot, I say go ahead, just don't compete.
 

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
4,809
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#12
Ok first off, beta blockers are not some crazy dangerous drugs. They have quite wide therapeutic margins, and overdose is usually pretty deliberate. Some people are more sensitive than others but they are generally tolerated very well. The indication for them outside of cardiogenic pathology or systemic HTN is for a few things. It is an alternative med for general anxiety and a first line for benign essential tremor. If you have the shakes, it can help some. Taking some before a match can be beneficial, but I’m gonna tell you that the effects are quite overrated. Yes they are banned in Olympic sports but so is cold medicine for Christ’s sake. I have atenolol at home that I use for anxiety when I get stomach aches. Doesn’t always work that well, and my pressure has never bombed out with any beta blocker. Clonidine on the other hand, now that will bomb your pressure out. Also given as an alternative for anxiety
 

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
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#13
The adrenaline (nor epinephrine) has an immediate effect. A beta blocker blocks the epinephrine receptors and works over only a few hours so you would hope that it has an immediate effect but you'll only see it if you immediately put yourself in a situation where you would expect an adrenaline dump.

The effects like reduced blood pressure are the ones that you won't see immediately because you're probably not having adrenaline issues from taking a blood pressure test.
The most immediate effect is blocking B1 receptors in the heart which control chronotropy (rate) and inotropy (contraction). As a result, pressure drops due to decreased contractility, and cardiac output drops from slowing the heart rate. What you probably don’t know is that a beta blocker can also be given to improve (raise) BP in some instances of tachycardia where the filling time of the ventricles is inadequate resulting in hypotension. The perfect example of this is in atrial fibrillation or flutter. A B-blocker slows the conduction from the SA to AV node and restores ventricular filling, and the BP rises.

The adrenaline effects you are talking about have to do with tremors, likely controlled by B2 receptors and the mechanism is not very well understood.
 

flyer

Sergeant of the Hide
Apr 25, 2018
1,179
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#14
I became interested in beta blockers after seeing this news segment: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-pill-to-forget/

Normally I would say CBS is where you can see BS but it's a pretty good story and I would say the effect on your mental state can be tremendous.

My epinephrine shot happened when I was two years old and suffering from an attack of allergic asthma. It's one of the most vivid memories I have and the earliest by about two years. I don't think it was particularly traumatic and it doesn't haunt me but I think the epinephrine burned it in to my brain.

That's why I think beta blockers should be in first aid kits, pop a pill after a car crash and maybe your heart won't race the next time you get behind the wheel.

To me that seems like a powerful effect.
 

Snuby642

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 11, 2017
814
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#15
Try closing your eyes for a couple of minutes, and stop thinking about anything before you shoot.
Your working your head too hard.

So long as it's a one way range.
 
Feb 20, 2017
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SE Florida
#18
I take Propranolol daily as a preventative measure against tremors caused by my diabetes. I suffer from some long term usage effects of the stuff. Mostly it is inertia in getting daily tasks done and while I wouldn't call it a sense of well being, I just don't give a shit. The tremors are bad enough that I cannot perform mundane tasks like eating soup with a spoon or drinking from a full glass of water.
I'll just give one precaution about the use, the instructions that come with it say to avoid alcohol. That is a serious understatement. They should read, ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING ALCOHOL, YOU MORON.
You have never had a hangover till you pop a Propanolol and drink even two beers, its worse that consuming a bottle of Tequila with none of the benefits.
 

mcameron

Sergeant of the Hide
Nov 17, 2011
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#19
ive shot competetions most of my life.....everything from informal club matches, regionals, NCAA, National matches....i know Olympians and people who make a living off of shooting.....if theres a trick involved in shooting, ive heard it.....

i do not know a single serious shooter who shoots on Beta Blockers...

in my experience...you shoot best when you shoot "in your routine"..........if you drink a litre of coffee every morning.......drink a litre of coffee morning of your match.........if you smoke a pack a day.......smoke the day of your match........if you drink kale smoothies every day for lunch......drink a fucking kale smoothie when you shoot.....you dont want to do anything different.

so taking beta blockers right before you shoot is honestly going to fuck you up more than its going to help you..... ide strongly avoid anything that fucks around with blood pressure, mainly because ide be concerned with how it would effect my vision.

frankly.....controlling your heart rate is shooting 101......it is what you learn right after controlling your breathing....honestly its not hard....and if you need non-prescribed medication to help you control your heart rate during a shoot, you have no business competing at the level you are at.......and i can safely say you are going to finish in the lower 1/4 of the pack anyways.

beta blockers to "steady your aim"...is nothing but shit from b-list assassin movies
 
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SonicBurlap

Sergeant of the Hide
Aug 14, 2018
118
24
18
#20
Beta blockers keep your heart rate and BP down by regulating your heart and keeping it from compensating. If you take them and try to run, or exert yourself in any other way like you would do in some matches from position to position you'll be out of breath in no time, they can even give you the shakes from being out of breath. They are a prescription drug and should only be taken by people who had them prescribed by their doctor. If your doctor wants to prescribe them to you I'd personally ask for him to look into a different med like an Angiotensin blocker, or a diuretic first because lately their benefit risk ratio has come into question. Taking them without prescription, when you don't need them is an all around bad idea and breathing control in comparison is easy, especially when you stick to a routine and always get into a comfortable position first and foremost.
 

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
4,809
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#21
Beta blockers keep your heart rate and BP down by regulating your heart and keeping it from compensating. If you take them and try to run, or exert yourself in any other way like you would do in some matches from position to position you'll be out of breath in no time, they can even give you the shakes from being out of breath. They are a prescription drug and should only be taken by people who had them prescribed by their doctor. If your doctor wants to prescribe them to you I'd personally ask for him to look into a different med like an Angiotensin blocker, or a diuretic first because lately their benefit risk ratio has come into question. Taking them without prescription, when you don't need them is an all around bad idea and breathing control in comparison is easy, especially when you stick to a routine and always get into a comfortable position first and foremost.
The question of their usage was not in relation to BP control. It is a 2nd line, or even semi 1st line treatment (depending on the population i.e. Hx of addiction) for general anxiety and tremors. They have a quite large therapeutic index, so the people on here talking about how dangerous these drugs are have no idea what they are talking about. ACEIs, ARBs nor diuretics would be indicated to take to control tremors or anxiety because it has nothing to do with BP control
 

SonicBurlap

Sergeant of the Hide
Aug 14, 2018
118
24
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#22
The question of their usage was not in relation to BP control. It is a 2nd line, or even semi 1st line treatment (depending on the population i.e. Hx of addiction) for general anxiety and tremors. They have a quite large therapeutic index, so the people on here talking about how dangerous these drugs are have no idea what they are talking about. ACEIs, ARBs nor diuretics would be indicated to take to control tremors or anxiety because it has nothing to do with BP control
Any prescription drug should be taken only as prescribed by a physician. Self-medicating with prescription drugs, however they were obtained and for whatever reason is not only illegal but a bad idea. Therefore, if you are prescribed drugs - take them as prescribed, if not - don't take them. Simple as that. As far as side effects of beta blockers, you can read the nursing drug guides and the studies on Biomed Central and decide for yourself how benign they are, or not based on sample size.
 

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
4,809
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#23
Any prescription drug should be taken only as prescribed by a physician. Self-medicating with prescription drugs, however they were obtained and for whatever reason is not only illegal but a bad idea. Therefore, if you are prescribed drugs - take them as prescribed, if not - don't take them. Simple as that. As far as side effects of beta blockers, you can read the nursing drug guides and the studies on Biomed Central and decide for yourself how benign they are, or not based on sample size.
Um...being that I studied medicine for like a decade and have prescribed them like candy, I think I know what I’m talking about. This conversation wasn’t about self prescribing. It was about taking beta blockers for events, and they are prescribed for that reason. You are sensationalizing a boring drug, making it sound like it’s something like digitalis.
 

SonicBurlap

Sergeant of the Hide
Aug 14, 2018
118
24
18
#24
Um...being that I studied medicine for like a decade and have prescribed them like candy, I think I know what I’m talking about. This conversation wasn’t about self prescribing. It was about taking beta blockers for events, and they are prescribed for that reason. You are sensationalizing a boring drug, making it sound like it’s something like digitalis.
I am sensationalizing nothing. what I am advocating is what you should be expecting of any current, or former medical professional to advocate if you studied medicine - to take medications that work on your cardiac system only when, and as prescribed by a physician.

It may be a boring class of drug, but is it appropriate to prescribe them for events when they usually take a week to show effect, patients are advised not to skip a dose, or double dose, and the possibility of hypertensive rebound exists when not properly weaned off over two weeks.

As a physician you can prescribe what you see fit and I would advise your patients to follow your orders. Personally I believe there are other treatments available for patients with anxiety. As a former service member who used to spend plenty of time on the rifle range before attending college, I believe a consistent routine, comfortable firing position as well as lots of practice dry firing and breathing control render any clinic visit and pharmaceutical assistance unnecessary for shooting competitions unles there is a serious underlying medical condition that does not just affect competitions. This is my personal opinion and every medical professional and patient are entitled to their own, patients even to a second, or third, or more because it is their bodies that get affected by meds regardless the extent of risk, and their decision.