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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2012 Feb;14(2):112-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7176.2011.00553.x. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

β-blockade: benefits beyond blood pressure reduction?

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Department of Cardiology, University of Cardiff, University Hospital, Wales Heart Research Institute, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, Wales, UK.


Hypertension is a major cardiovascular (CV) risk factor, but several other common conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), osteoporosis, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), have been shown to independently increase the risk of CV events and death. The physiological basis for an increased CV risk in those conditions probably lies in the augmentations of oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, systemic inflammation, and arterial stiffness, which all are also hallmarks of hypertension. β-Blockers have been used for the treatment of hypertension for more than 40 years, but a number of meta-analyses have demonstrated that treatment with these agents may be associated with an increased risk of CV events and mortality. However, the majority of primary prevention β-blocker trials employed atenolol, an earlier-generation β(1) -selective blocker whose mechanism of action is based on a reduction of cardiac output. Available evidence suggests that vasodilatory β-blockers may be free of the deleterious effects of atenolol. The purpose of this review is to summarize pathophysiologic mechanisms thought to be responsible for the increased CV risk associated with COPD, osteoporosis, and PAD, and examine the possible benefits of vasodilatory β-blockade in those conditions. Our examination focused on nebivolol, a β(1) -selective agent with vasodilatory effects most likely mediated via β(3) activation.

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