Beta blockers may help COPD sufferers

May 12, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Beta blockers, the group of drugs commonly prescribed to patients with heart diseases, may also have considerable benefits for sufferers of diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema, according to new research led by the University of Dundee.

Researchers in the Asthma and Allergy Group at Dundee studied the effects of on patients with (COPD), which includes those with chronic bronchitis, and other conditions.

They found that beta blockers reduced mortality rates, and for patients who were already taking their regular inhaler therapies.

The research has been published in the .

'The clear benefits of beta blocker use in cardiovascular disease are well known but their use is generally avoided in patients who also have COPD, because of concerns they might cause adverse effects with breathing,' said Professor Brian Lipworth, who heads the Asthma & Allergy Group at Dundee.

'But our research shows there are no adverse effects and in fact, when used in addition to regular treatments like inhalers, the beta blockers have a very positive effect. They have a protective effect in that they reduce the amount of incidents that would cause COPD sufferers to be admitted to hospital but they also seem to have a more beneficial effect beyond that.

'This is potentially very good news because beta blockers are drugs which are cheap and readily available. We are not yet at the stage where we could recommend they be prescribed to all COPD sufferers, but what our research does show is that if patients have cardiovascular problems and also have COPD, there is no reason not to give them beta blockers. In fact, instead there are very good reasons to prescribe them.

'Provided they are used carefully, that doses are introduced slowly, and that the cardio-selective types of beta blockers are used, then these are drugs that should be used to treat these patients.'

Many patients with cardiovascular disease also suffer from COPD - the illnesses in many cases are both directly related to smoking, so they are common partners.

The research looked at the records of almost 6000 patients diagnosed with COPD.

The research team also included researchers from NHS Tayside and the University of St Andrews.

Explore further: Beta-blockers given the boot in Britain

Related Stories

Beta-blockers given the boot in Britain

June 28, 2006

British doctors are being advised not to prescribe beta-blockers and to ease most current users off them and onto new treatment for high blood pressure.

Heart failure treated 'in the brain'

March 25, 2008

Beta-blockers heal the heart via the brain when administered during heart failure, according to a new study by UCL (University College London). Up to now, it was thought that beta-blockers work directly on the heart, but ...

Common bronchodilator linked to increased deaths

September 15, 2008

A common bronchodilator drug which has been used for more than a decade by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been linked to a one-third higher risk of cardiovascular-related deaths.

Recommended for you

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

In sub-Saharan Africa, cancer can be an infectious disease

August 26, 2016

In 1963, Irish surgeon Denis Parson Burkitt airmailed samples of an unusual jaw tumor found in Ugandan children to his colleague, Anthony Epstein, at Middlesex Hospital in London. Epstein, an expert in chicken viruses and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.