Beta blockers, a class of drugs used to manage abnormal heart rhythms, angina and high blood pressure, are prescribed routinely to those with a history of heart attack to lower the risk of recurrence of the condition.
The study followed over 40,000 heart attack sufferers and found that long-term treatment with beta blockers wasn’t associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes during an average monitoring period of 4.5 years.
In the largest study to date on the efficacy of beta blockers, researchers followed up for one year 43,618 adults who had had a heart attack between 2005 and 2016 requiring treatment in hospital, and whose details had been entered in the national Swedish register for coronary heart disease (Swedeheart).
The results found that those using beta blockers did not have significantly improved outcomes than those not on the drugs.
Of all the patients, 34,253 of the study subjects were prescribed beta blockers and were still on these drugs one year after discharge from the hospital while 9,365 had not been prescribed these drugs.
“Some 6,475 (19%) of those on beta blockers, and 2,028 (22%) of those who weren’t, died from any cause, or had another heart attack, or required unscheduled revascularisation, or were admitted to hospital for heart failure.
“After accounting for potentially influential factors, including demographics and relevant co-existing conditions, there was no discernible difference in the rates of these events between the two groups,” the study revealed.
Researchers have made it clear that their study was an observational one, and as such, can’t establish cause and although it’s the largest study of its kind to date, the findings should be viewed in the context of certain limitations.
The study further says beta blockers are associated with side-effects such as depression and fatigue and, therefore, the value of longterm treatment with these drugs in heart attack patients, who don’t have heart failure or LVSD (Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction), needs reassessment.
Mohit Gupta, professor of cardiology at Delhi’s GB Pant needed to be further verified. “Beta-blockers are inexpensive. . . The current evidence use by patients with a history of heart attack to prevent recurrence of the condition. We need strong evidence to deviate from it. ”