Heart Disease Home > How Does Metoprolol Work?

Metoprolol (Lopressor® and Toprol-XL®) is a prescription medication used to treat several conditions involving the heart and blood vessels, such as congestive heart failure, angina, and high blood pressure. It can also help improve survival rates following a heart attack.
Many people may wonder, "How does metoprolol work?" Metoprolol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic blocking agents, or beta blockers for short. As the name implies, these drugs block beta receptors, which are located in a number of places within the body, including the heart and blood vessels. These receptors are what stress hormones (such as adrenaline) attach to, causing certain reactions in the body. These reactions can include increases in:
  • Heart rate
  • The force with which the heart pumps blood
  • Blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic).
Metoprolol helps to block a specific type of beta receptor called beta-1 receptors. By blocking them, the medication causes the reverse effect of these stress hormones. It decreases heart rate and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as the workload of the heart. This means that the heart requires less blood and oxygen to work properly.
(For more information on how the drug works, click What Is Metoprolol Used For?. This article takes a closer look at the uses of this drug, including whether it is safe for use in children.)
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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