Aims: Large randomized trials have shown that beta-blockers reduce mortality and hospital admissions in patients with heart failure. The effects of beta-blockers in elderly patients with a broad range of left ventricular ejection fraction are uncertain. The SENIORS study was performed to assess effects of the beta-blocker, nebivolol, in patients >/=70 years, regardless of ejection fraction.
Methods and results: We randomly assigned 2128 patients aged >/=70 years with a history of heart failure (hospital admission for heart failure within the previous year or known ejection fraction </=35%), 1067 to nebivolol (titrated from 1.25 mg once daily to 10 mg once daily), and 1061 to placebo. The primary outcome was a composite of all cause mortality or cardiovascular hospital admission (time to first event). Analysis was by intention to treat. Mean duration of follow-up was 21 months. Mean age was 76 years (SD 4.7), 37% were female, mean ejection fraction was 36% (with 35% having ejection fraction >35%), and 68% had a prior history of coronary heart disease. The mean maintenance dose of nebivolol was 7.7 mg and of placebo 8.5 mg. The primary outcome occurred in 332 patients (31.1%) on nebivolol compared with 375 (35.3%) on placebo [hazard ratio (HR) 0.86, 95% CI 0.74-0.99; P=0.039]. There was no significant influence of age, gender, or ejection fraction on the effect of nebivolol on the primary outcome. Death (all causes) occurred in 169 (15.8%) on nebivolol and 192 (18.1%) on placebo (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.71-1.08; P=0.21).
Conclusion: Nebivolol, a beta-blocker with vasodilating properties, is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for heart failure in the elderly.