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AF Association
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Asthma risk with beta-blockers

Hello everyone! I currently take Propranolol as a pill-in-the-pocket, which works very well when I need it (rarely, thankfully). However, I've been made aware of the potential for Asthma attacks whilst taking it. Now I don't have Asthma, but I did have it as a child up until the age of 8/9 (I'm 23 now).

Could the Propranolol bring on a bad Asthma attack at all? I haven't had an attack in a very long time so I don't remember what it feels like. Although I sometimes do feel kind of out of breath but I've never had problems breathing through my mouth. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing?



8 Replies

If you google for 'propranolol asthma exacerbation' you'll find a range of articles.


An interesting question. I am 66 and used to have relatively mild exercise induced asthma when I was younger. I took a Bentolin inhaler before playing sport. I've not had it since my 30's but I don't tend to do any extreme aerobic exercise now. I was put on a beta blocker (Bisoprolol) a few months back which has reduced my heart rate. I have noticed the occasional slight tight chested feeling and feeling slightly "wheezy" and breathless from time to time so wondered if it could be linked, as you are.



It is well known that beta blockers can exacerbate asthma and should not be prescribed for those who suffer.  It may well be that your juvenile asthma was part of growing up so why not ask your GP to test you . A simple flow test will guide him as to whether or not you are at risk.


I expect it's unlikely you will have any problems so don't worry but by all means talk to your consultant.  If there was a problem he would have put you on nebivolol or another I can't remember which are far more cardio-specific and don't trigger asthma problems.  I've been on it for three years now because I am asthmatic with no issues.

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I have been long term lung and heart conditions and I am afraid it has been a balancing act on which best suites each individual condition without it affecting the other condition.  Some beta blockers will affect the breathing but then when you take to much Ventolin releaver it can affect the heart?  Since 1992 when they discovered my multi-conditions I have had to change tablets because of reaction in one way or the other.  These reactions have not always been straight away on being prescribed them!

Be Well


I have occasional mild asthma symptoms during the hay fever season and, for that reason, was prescribed Diltiazem (calcium channel blocker) instead of a beta blocker.


Hi I have Asthma and also AF,I have Symbicort 200mgs for preventing attacks and 400mgs when Asthma is aggravated,in addition I also use Ventolin,am on Bisopral 1-25mgs no problems at all!

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Annekw is very reassuring.

1. I think if you look in the various sources of information on medicines, that betablockers are known to be a "potential" problem with anyone who has any history whatsoever of asthma. But, some betablockers are better than others, and bisoprolol is one of them. There are plenty of asthma sufferers on bisoprolol. You might have to treat the asthma more aggressively.  That is what my lungs specialist did when after several months on bisoprolol (to no ill effect) I caught a bronchitis I could not shake off.

2. Some doctors may not be aware that 1.25mg is a possible dosage of bisoprolol. I worked that out for myself. Some people are thin, some people react easily to a medicine. This is not an antibiotic, therefore some adults can successfully take teenager dosages.

3. Be aware that you may be able to live with bisoprolol + a bit of chest tightening etc for many months. Then the problem of bronchitis. In my case, a year of regular antibiotics -- complicated by the way some of them touch the INR -- still did not free me from bronchitis. The cardiologist when I met him simply laughed, told me I should have known better, I should have suspected the bisoprolol and come to him sooner. He stopped it, and no more bronchitis.

4. If asthma then bronchitis then antibiotics do not help. Recently happened to me. I finally suspected inflammation was the problem. So, back to my notes, found what had I previously taken, as an inhaler not a tablet,  went to the pharmacy and bought it. Two days later, no white sputum etc. Three weeks of it cleared the pockets if inflammation and infection. Lesson learned: bronchitis can sometimes be treated by inhaled anti-inflammatorys  like beclometasone. 

Hope this helps.Information is power. With information you can ask the key questions/


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