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      Beta-blocker under-use in COPD patients

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          Cardiovascular (CVS) comorbidities are common in COPD and contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality, especially following acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD). Beta-blockers (BBs) are safe and effective in COPD patients, with demonstrated survival benefit following myocardial infarction. We sought to determine if BBs are under-prescribed in patients hospitalized with AECOPD. We also sought to determine inpatient rates of CVS and cerebrovascular complications, and their impact on patient outcomes.


          Retrospective hospital data was collected over a 12-month period. The medical records of all patients >40 years of age coded with a diagnosis of AECOPD were analyzed. Prevalent use and incident initiation of BBs were assessed. Comorbidities including indications and contraindications for BB use were analyzed.


          Of the 366 eligible patients, 156 patients (42.6%) had at least one indication for BB use – of these patients, only 53 (34.0%) were on BB therapy and 61 (39.1%) were not on BB therapy but had no listed contraindication. Prevalent use of BBs at the time of admission in all 366 patients was 19.7%, compared with 45.6%, 39.6% and 45.9% use of anti-platelets, statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor/angiotensin II receptor blockers, respectively. CVS and cerebrovascular complications were common in this population (57 patients, 16%) and were associated with longer length of stay ( p<0.01) and greater inpatient mortality ( p=0.02).


          BBs are under-prescribed in COPD patients despite clear indication(s) for their use. Further work is required to explore barriers to BB prescribing in COPD patients.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Effect of carvedilol on the morbidity of patients with severe chronic heart failure: results of the carvedilol prospective randomized cumulative survival (COPERNICUS) study.

          Beta-blocking agents improve functional status and reduce morbidity in mild-to-moderate heart failure, but it is not known whether they produce such benefits in severe heart failure. We randomly assigned 2289 patients with symptoms of heart failure at rest or on minimal exertion and with an ejection fraction <25% (but not volume-overloaded) to double-blind treatment with either placebo (n=1133) or carvedilol (n=1156) for an average of 10.4 months. Carvedilol reduced the combined risk of death or hospitalization for a cardiovascular reason by 27% (P=0.00002) and the combined risk of death or hospitalization for heart failure by 31% (P=0.000004). Patients in the carvedilol group also spent 27% fewer days in the hospital for any reason (P=0.0005) and 40% fewer days in the hospital for heart failure (P<0.0001). These differences were as a result of both a decrease in the number of hospitalizations and a shorter duration of each admission. More patients felt improved and fewer patients felt worse in the carvedilol group than in the placebo group after 6 months of maintenance therapy (P=0.0009). Carvedilol-treated patients were also less likely than placebo-treated patients to experience a serious adverse event (P=0.002), especially worsening heart failure, sudden death, cardiogenic shock, or ventricular tachycardia. In euvolemic patients with symptoms at rest or on minimal exertion, the addition of carvedilol to conventional therapy ameliorates the severity of heart failure and reduces the risk of clinical deterioration, hospitalization, and other serious adverse clinical events.
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            Effect of beta-blockade on mortality among high-risk and low-risk patients after myocardial infarction.

            Long-term administration of beta-adrenergic blockers to patients after myocardial infarction improves survival. However, physicians are reluctant to administer beta-blockers to many patients, such as older patients and those with chronic pulmonary disease, left ventricular dysfunction, or non-Q-wave myocardial infarction. The medical records of 201,752 patients with myocardial infarction were abstracted by the Cooperative Cardiovascular Project, which was sponsored by the Health Care Financing Administration. Using a Cox proportional-hazards model that accounted for multiple factors that might influence survival, we compared mortality among patients treated with beta-blockers with mortality among untreated patients during the two years after myocardial infarction. A total of 34 percent of the patients received beta-blockers. The percentage was lower among the very elderly, blacks, and patients with the lowest ejection fractions, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, elevated serum creatinine concentrations, or type 1 diabetes mellitus. Nevertheless, mortality was lower in every subgroup of patients treated with beta-blockade than in untreated patients. In patients with myocardial infarction and no other complications, treatment with beta-blockers was associated with a 40 percent reduction in mortality. Mortality was also reduced by 40 percent in patients with non-Q-wave infarction and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Blacks, patients 80 years old or older, and those with a left ventricular ejection fraction below 20 percent, serum creatinine concentration greater than 1.4 mg per deciliter (124 micromol per liter), or diabetes mellitus had a lower percentage reduction in mortality. Given, however, the higher mortality rates in these subgroups, the absolute reduction in mortality was similar to or greater than that among patients with no specific risk factors. After myocardial infarction, patients with conditions that are often considered contraindications to beta-blockade (such as heart failure, pulmonary disease, and older age) and those with nontransmural infarction benefit from beta-blocker therapy.
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              Effect of β blockers in treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a retrospective cohort study

              Objective To examine the effect of β blockers in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), assessing their effect on mortality, hospital admissions, and exacerbations of COPD when added to established treatment for COPD. Design Retrospective cohort study using a disease specific database of COPD patients (TARDIS) linked to the Scottish morbidity records of acute hospital admissions, the Tayside community pharmacy prescription records, and the General Register Office for Scotland death registry. Setting Tayside, Scotland (2001–2010) Population 5977 patients aged >50 years with a diagnosis of COPD. Main outcome measures Hazard ratios for all cause mortality, emergency oral corticosteroid use, and respiratory related hospital admissions calculated through Cox proportional hazard regression after correction for influential covariates. Results Mean follow-up was 4.35 years, mean age at diagnosis was 69.1 years, and 88% of β blockers used were cardioselective. There was a 22% overall reduction in all cause mortality with β blocker use. Furthermore, there were additive benefits of β blockers on all cause mortality at all treatment steps for COPD. Compared with controls (given only inhaled therapy with either short acting β agonists or short acting antimuscarinics), the adjusted hazard ratio for all cause mortality was 0.28 (95% CI 0.21 to 0.39) for treatment with inhaled corticosteroid, long acting β agonist, and long acting antimuscarinic plus β blocker versus 0.43 (0.38 to 0.48) without β blocker. There were similar trends showing additive benefits of β blockers in reducing oral corticosteroid use and hospital admissions due to respiratory disease. β blockers had no deleterious impact on lung function at all treatment steps when given in conjunction with either a long acting β agonist or antimuscarinic agent Conclusions β blockers may reduce mortality and COPD exacerbations when added to established inhaled stepwise therapy for COPD, independently of overt cardiovascular disease and cardiac drugs, and without adverse effects on pulmonary function.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                17 October 2017
                : 12
                : 3041-3046
                [1 ]Advanced Lung Disease Unit, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, WA, Australia
                [2 ]Respiratory Department, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Murdoch, WA, Australia
                [3 ]School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, WA, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Kuan Pin Lim, Respiratory Department, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Locked Bag 100, Palmyra DC, WA 6961, Australia, Email drkplim@
                © 2017 Lim et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Respiratory medicine

                copd exacerbations, beta-blockers, cardiovascular, comorbidity


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