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Cardio-selective and non-selective beta-blockers in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: effects on bronchodilator response and exercise

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Abstract Background:

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often have co-existing cardiovascular disease and may require beta-blocker treatment. There are limited data on the effects of beta-blockers on the response to inhaled β2-agonists and exercise capacity in patients with COPD. Objective:

To determine the effects of different doses of cardio-selective and non-selective beta-blockers on the acute bronchodilator response to beta-agonists in COPD, and to assess their effects on exercise capacity. Methods:

A double-blind, randomized, three-way cross-over (metoprolol 95 mg, propranolol 80 mg, placebo) study with a final open-label high-dose arm (metoprolol 190 mg). After 1 week of each treatment, the bronchodilator response to salbutamol was measured after first inducing bronchoconstriction using methacholine. Exercise capacity was assessed using the incremental shuttle walk test. Results:

Eleven patients with moderate COPD were recruited. Treatments were well-tolerated although two did not participate in the high-dose metoprolol phase. The area under the salbutamol–response curve was lower after propranolol compared with placebo (P = 0.0006). The area under the curve also tended to be lower after high-dose metoprolol (P = 0.076). The per cent recovery of the methacholine-induced fall was also lower after high-dose metoprolol (P = 0.0018). Low-dose metoprolol did not alter the bronchodilator response. Oxygen saturation at peak exercise was lower with all beta-blocker treatments (P = 0.046). Conclusion:

Non-selective beta-blockers and high doses of cardio-selective beta-blockers may inhibit the bronchodilator response to β2-agonists in patients with COPD. Beta-blockers were also associated with lower oxygen saturation during exercise. The clinical significance of these adverse effects is uncertain in view of the benefits of beta-blocker treatment for cardiovascular disease.
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Keywords: beta-agonist; beta-blocker; bronchodilator response; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exercise tolerance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2010

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