25 October 2008

Beta-Blockers Might Not Offer Heart Protection

If you look at the way beta-blockers are described and defined here, you may get the idea that it offers cardioprotection. That means it protects the heart in cases of chest pains associated with poor blood supply to the heart, in cases of high blood pressure or hypertension, and when a heart attack has already occurred.

A new study published in the recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology said otherwise.

Part of the study results said:
Paradoxically, a lower heart rate (as attained in the beta-blocker group at study end) was associated with a greater risk for the end points of all-cause mortality (r = –0.51;), cardiovascular mortality (r = –0.61;), myocardial infarction (r = –0.85;), stroke (r = –0.20;), or heart failure
(r = –0.64;).
~ JACC, Vol.52, No.18, 28 Oct. 2008

This is an alarming result. Doctors prescribe beta-blockers to patients in the hope of improving their clinical outcomes. If doing so results in creating unfavorable outcomes, then a revision of treatment modalities must be studied immediately.

The study's conclusion worries me:
"In contrast to patients with myocardial infarction and heart failure, beta-blocker–associated reduction in heart rate increased the risk of cardiovascular events and death for hypertensive patients."
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