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Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 Aug;84(8):718-29. doi: 10.4065/84.8.718.

Beta-blocker use for the stages of heart failure.

Author information

  • Division of Cardiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey 07103-2714, USA. klapholz@umdnj.edu


The 2005 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology heart failure (HF) guidelines contributed to a renewed focus on "at-risk" patients and emphasized HF as a progressive disease. Patient categorization by stages focused attention on customization of therapy to achieve optimal, evidence-based treatments across the HF continuum. Therapy for risk factors that predispose patients to left ventricular dysfunction or other symptoms may help reduce HF development. beta-Blockers are valuable for treatment of HF; however, the class is heterogeneous, and proper beta-blocker selection for each HF stage is important. beta-Blockers have been used routinely to treat patients with stage A HF with hypertension. Recent controversy regarding the detrimental effects that some beta-blockers have on metabolic parameters has raised inappropriate concerns about the use of any beta-blocker for diabetes. beta-Blockade is standard therapy for the patient with stage B HF who has had a myocardial infarction, but few data are available concerning use in asymptomatic patients with left ventricular dysfunction. Additionally, beta-blockers are part of the core therapy for stage C HF and selected patients with stage D HF. This review examines the role and use of beta-blockers in each HF stage through an evidence-based approach to provide better understanding of their importance in this progressive disease. PubMed searches (1980-2008) identified large clinical trials that evaluated cardiovascular events and outcomes in any HF stage or hypertension. Search terms were heart failure, hypertension, beta-blocker, ACEI, ARB, and calcium channel blocker AND blood pressure coronary artery disease, diabetes, efficacy, left ventricular dysfunction, metabolism, mortality, myocardial infarction, or stroke.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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