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Am J Cardiol. 1987 Aug 31;60(6):10D-14D.

Antiarrhythmic effects of beta-adrenergic blocking agents in benign or potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias.


Classification of ventricular arrhythmias into those that are benign, potentially lethal and lethal is based on their associated risk for producing sudden cardiac death. This classification system is useful in defining indications for the treatment of ventricular arrhythmias and predicting differential rates of antiarrhythmic drug efficacy and toxicity. Whether the reduction of potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias will prevent sudden cardiac death remains to be determined. The class II antiarrhythmic agents--the beta-adrenergic blocking drugs--have been shown to reduce sudden cardiac death in postmyocardial infarction patients, but the precise mechanism of their effect has not been defined. beta blockers are efficacious in approximately 50% of patients with benign or potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias. This response is comparable to that seen with the class IA agent disopyramide or the class IB agents tocainide and mexiletine. beta blockers have favorable side-effect profiles including a low incidence of proarrhythmia and a lack of organ toxicity such as hepatitis, pulmonary fibrosis or agranulocytosis, which are concerns with class I and class III antiarrhythmic drugs. The proper dosage of the beta blocker is critical in limiting adverse effects. In a study of 23 patients with benign or potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias, 11 (48%) of the patients responded to nadolol with a reduction of greater than 75% in arrhythmia frequency, and several patients responded at nadolol dosages as low as 10 mg daily. Thus, it is plausible to consider beta blockers as first-choice antiarrhythmic therapy, even in patients with left ventricular dysfunction when sympathetic tone is not required to maintain cardiac compensation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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