NYMC Faculty Publications

Beta Adrenergic Blocker Use in Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Concurrent Chronic Heart Failure With a Low Ejection Fraction

Journal Title

Cardiology in Review

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Document Type

Review Article

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Chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often coexist and present clinicians with diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Beta-blockers are a cornerstone of CHF treatment, in patients with a low ejection fraction, while beta-agonists are utilized for COPD. These 2 therapies exert opposing pharmacological effects. COPD patients are at an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular events. In addition to CHF, beta-blockers are used in a number of cardiovascular conditions because of their cardioprotective properties as well as their mortality benefit. However, there is reluctance among physicians to use beta-blockers in patients with COPD because of fear of inducing bronchospasms, despite increasing evidence of their safety and mortality benefits. The majority of this evidence comes from observational studies showing that beta-blockers are safe and well tolerated, with minimal effect on respiratory function. Furthermore, beta-blockers have been shown to lower the mortality risk in patients with COPD alone, as well as in those with COPD and CHF. Large clinical trials are needed in order to dispel the mistrust of beta-blocker use in COPD patients. The current evidence supports the use of cardioselective beta-blockers in patients with COPD. As the population continues to live longer, comorbidities become ever more present, and cardioselective beta-blockers should not be withheld from patients with COPD and coexistent CHF, because the benefits outweigh the risks.

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