Beta-blockers cut CVD mortality risk in COPD

Beta-blockers can cut the risk of death from CVD by 40 per cent in patients with COPD without hindering lung function, US research suggests.

CVD is the leading cause of death in patients with COPD, with coronary artery disease present in 10-22 per cent of COPD patients.

But the use of beta-blockers is not always advocated in COPD patients because of concerns about possible adverse effects of beta-blockade on airway function.

NICE guidance on COPD management, issued in February 2004, does not make any recommendations for beta-blocker use.

For this latest study , the researchers identified 825 patients, of which 142 were on beta-blockers, admitted between October 1999 and September 2006 to hospital with acute exacerbations of COPD. Patients with a diagnosis of asthma were excluded from the study. Over the duration of the seven-year study, 43 patients died from CVD.

When the mortality rate was compared for those who received beta-blockers and those who did not, they found that beta-blocker use could reduce CVD mortality by 40 per cent compared to no beta-blocker use.

While in a subset of patients with available spirometric data, no significant difference was found between those who received beta-blockers and those who did not in percent predicted FEV1.

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