Beta-Blocker Use Post-Heart Attack Called Into Question

Researchers followed heart attack survivors for 18 months, examining treatment adherence and death rate
Researchers followed heart attack survivors for 18 months, examining treatment adherence and death rate

A new study has challenged the belief that beta-blockers should be included with ACE inhibitors and statins in a treatment regimen following a heart attack.

All 3 treatments are usually prescribed to heart attack survivors to prevent secondary attacks and death. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Iowa, and the University of Eastern Finland assessed 90,000 Medicare patients who were aged ≥65 years and suffered a heart attack.

The researchers followed the heart attack survivor patients for 18 months, examining their treatment adherence and death rate. They found that 6 months after their heart attack, approximately half the patients stopped taking at least 1 of their prescribed medications. 

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Patients who only took the ACE inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) and a statin were no more likely to die than those who took all 3 prescribed treatments. The mortality rate for patients who took all 3 of their medications was 9.3% vs. 9.1% for patients who only adhered to the ACE inhibitor or ARB and statin prescriptions; this was deemed a statistically insignificant difference. 

The mortality rate for patients who took none of the medicines as prescribed was 14.3%.

“We are not saying that beta-blockers have no value. It's just that their benefits appear to have been eclipsed by the duo of ACE inhibitors and statins, which are relatively newer drugs,” said Gang Fang, assistant professor at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and lead author of the study. 

Professor Fang emphasized that no patient should stop their regimen of beta-blockers without consulting their physician first. 

For more information visit UNCnews.edu.