Navigation Links
Heart Drugs Safe for Lungs, Study Finds

Fears about beta blockers making COPD worse are unfounded, experts say

MONDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Medical tradition says that the beta blockers used to treat heart disease shouldn't be given to people who also have severe lung disease, but a new Dutch study suggests the tradition is wrong.

A study of more than 2,200 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a diagnosis that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, found better survival among those given beta blockers than those who did not get the drugs, claims a report in the May 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine by physicians at University Medical Center Utrecht.

"To our knowledge, this is the first observational study that shows that long-term treatment with beta blockers may improve survival and reduce the risk of exacerbation of COPD in the broad spectrum of patients with a diagnosis of COPD," the researchers wrote.

"This is strikingly different from what our medical students are taught today," said Dr. Don D. Sin, a professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and co-author of an accompanying editorial. "Our traditional teachings are wrong."

The rap against beta blockers has been that while they improve heart function, they can cause airways to contract, a problem for people with COPD, Sin explained. "They demonstrate in this article that even people with COPD who use beta blockers did very well, better than people who didn't use beta blockers," he said.

Fears about beta blockers and COPD date back to the 1980s, when there were reports of "some nasty effects in patients with asthma, especially with high doses," said study author Dr. Frans H. Rutten, an assistant professor of medicine at Utrecht. The study demonstrates that the drugs can be handled safely for people with COPD, he noted.

"I know of no real problems now, especially when you start with a low dose so that the bronchial airways can adjust to the drug," Rutten said.

COPD was diagnosed in 560 patients at the start of the study in 1996, and 1,670 developed the condition by the end, in 2006. Of these, 665 were prescribed beta blockers for heart conditions, while 1,565 were not.

During an average follow-up time of 7.2 years, 27.2 percent of the people who took beta blockers died, compared to 32.3 percent of those not given the drug. The incidence of exacerbation -- severe flare-up -- of COPD was 42.7 percent among beta blocker users and 49.3 percent among nonusers.

The study isn't the final word on beta blockers and COPD, Sin said. That would have to come from a randomized, controlled study, which almost certainly will never be done, he said.

"If I had a heart attack, I wouldn't want to be in a clinical trial where there was a 50 percent chance I would get a sugar pill," Sin said. "So, this study may be the best evidence we get."

And the incentive of profit from increased use of beta blockers isn't there to have a drug company fund such a trial, since beta blockers are widely available in inexpensive, generic form, he added.

Sin acknowledged that he has been "an outlier" on the issue, already prescribing beta blockers for people with COPD. "But with this paper, I am much more confident that COPD patients can tolerate beta blockers," he said.

There are some exceptions, Sin noted. "For people with very bad asthma who have very reactive airways, I am much more cautious," he said. "I would start with the lowest dose possible, and then titrate upwards."

More information

To learn more about COPD, visit the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

SOURCES: Don D. Sin, M.D., professor, medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Frans H. Rutten, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands; May 24, 2010, Archives of Internal Medicine

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. The Heart of the Prisoner Revealed
2. Sexual activity declines for heart attack patients not getting doctors advice
3. Talk With Doctor Helps Heart Attack Patients Resume Sex
4. Heart Disease Among Childhood Cancer Survivors Tied to Gene Mutations
5. Big Decline in Heart Attacks If All States Had Smoking Bans
6. Medical Devices Driving Up Heart Care Costs
7. Patients at high risk of recurrences of heart disease: Breakthrough in prevention
8. Scientists discover the molecular heart of collective behavior
9. When Heart Patients Discharge Themselves, Hospital Bills Increase
10. Institute of HeartMath's Military Service Appreciation Fund Gives Soldiers Peace of Mind
11. Experts call for urgent action to tackle strong links between impotence and heart disease
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that 20 ... by their peers for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent of ... honors as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami Shareholders ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Comfort Keepers® of San ... Society and the Road To Recovery® program to drive cancer patients to and from ... adults to ensure the highest quality of life and ongoing independence. Getting to ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. ... magazine’s Code Talker Award, an essay contest in which patients and their families pay ... be presented at the 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... June 24, ... ... lifestyle publication Haute Living, is proud to recognize Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as ... believes that “the most beautiful women in the world, and the most handsome ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... feeding the Frederick area economy by obtaining investment capital for emerging technology companies. ... 2½ years that have already resulted in more than a million dollars of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)...  Arkis BioSciences, a leading innovator in the ... cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today announced it has secured ... led by Innova Memphis, followed by Angel Capital ... Arkis, new financing will accelerate the commercialization of ... of its in-licensed Endexo® technology. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Research and Markets ... Market by Type (Organic Chemical (Sugar, Petrochemical, Glycerin), Inorganic ... Coating, Parenteral) - Global Forecast to 2021" report ... The global pharmaceutical excipients market is projected to ... of 6.1% in the forecast period 2016 to 2021. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... CAPR ), a biotechnology company focused on ... today announced that patient enrollment in its ongoing ... Duchenne) has exceeded 50% of its 24-patient target. ... in the third quarter of 2016, and to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: