Uses for carvedilol include:
- High blood pressure control
- Congestive heart failure treatment
- Treatment following a heart attack to improve survival and decrease the chances of another heart attack.
Carvedilol has not been licensed for use in children, although it is often used in an off-label fashion to treat specific conditions in children. The medication may also be recommended for other off-label reasons, such as treatment for migraines or chest pain (angina).
(Click What Is Carvedilol Used For? for more information.)
Carvedilol is part of a class of drugs called beta-adrenergic blocking agents, or beta blockers for short. As the name implies, they block beta receptors in the body. Beta receptors 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, thereby causing certain reactions in the body, such as an increase in:
- Heart rate
- The force with which the heart pumps blood
- Blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic blood pressure).
By blocking beta receptors, carvedilol causes the reverse effect of stress hormones. It decreases heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressures, as well as the workload on the heart. This means that the heart requires less blood and oxygen to work properly. The medication also increases the efficiency of the heart, allowing more blood to be pumped out to the rest of the body.
Unlike a lot of other beta blockers, carvedilol also blocks alpha receptors. The alpha blocker component of the drug works more on the peripheral blood vessels (arteries and veins in the arms and legs). By blocking the alpha receptors, carvedilol relaxes these blood vessels.