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Nat Rev Cardiol. 2016 Aug;13(8):493-501. doi: 10.1038/nrcardio.2016.84. Epub 2016 May 26.

Heart rate reduction in coronary artery disease and heart failure.

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Department of Cardiology, Ospedale di Cona, Via Aldo Moro 8, 44124 (Cona) Ferrara, Italy.
National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College and Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science, Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK.


Elevated heart rate is known to induce myocardial ischaemia in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), and heart rate reduction is a recognized strategy to prevent ischaemic episodes. In addition, clinical evidence shows that slowing the heart rate reduces the symptoms of angina by improving microcirculation and coronary flow. Elevated heart rate is an established risk factor for cardiovascular events in patients with CAD and in those with chronic heart failure (HF). Accordingly, reducing heart rate improves prognosis in patients with HF, as demonstrated in SHIFT. By contrast, data from SIGNIFY indicate that heart rate is not a modifiable risk factor in patients with CAD who do not also have HF. Heart rate is also an important determinant of cardiac arrhythmias; low heart rate can be associated with atrial fibrillation, and high heart rate after exercise can be associated with sudden cardiac death. In this Review, we critically assess these clinical findings, and propose hypotheses for the variable effect of heart rate reduction in cardiovascular disease.

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