Use of beta-blockers in congestive heart failure

Ann Med. 2003;35(4):259-66. doi: 10.1080/14734220310011716.


While beta-adrenergic blockers have been used for decades in a variety of cardiovascular illnesses, they have traditionally been avoided in chronic heart failure. In spite of significant advances in management, mortality in patients suffering from heart failure remains unacceptably high and new therapies are urgently needed. Recently, several large clinical trials have shown a significant reduction in both morbidity and mortality in heart failure patients when beta-blockers are added to standard therapy. While further investigation is warranted in certain subgroups, the use of beta-adrenergic blockers in New York Heart Association (NYHA) class II to IV heart failure should now be considered routine. The purpose of this article is to outline and review the five major clinical trials of beta-blocker therapy in chronic heart failure; the US Carvedilol heart failure Program (USCP), the Cardiac Insufficiency Bisoprolol Study II (CIBIS-II), the Metoprolol CR/XL Randomized Intervention Trial in chronic Heart Failure (MERIT-HF), the Beta-blocker Evaluation of Survival Trial (BEST) and the Carvedilol Prospective Randomized Cumulative Survival trial (COPERNICUS), and to aid the reader in the selection of appropriate candidates for beta-blocker therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Bisoprolol / administration & dosage
  • Bisoprolol / therapeutic use
  • Carbazoles / administration & dosage
  • Carbazoles / therapeutic use
  • Carvedilol
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Forecasting
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Metoprolol / administration & dosage
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use
  • Propanolamines / administration & dosage
  • Propanolamines / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Carbazoles
  • Propanolamines
  • Carvedilol
  • Metoprolol
  • Bisoprolol