Inhaled beta2-adrenoceptor agonists: cardiovascular safety in patients with obstructive lung disease

Drugs. 2005;65(12):1595-610. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200565120-00001.


Although large surveys have documented the favourable safety profile of beta(2)-adrenoceptor agonists (beta(2)-agonists) and, above all, that of the long-acting agents, the presence in the literature of reports of adverse cardiovascular events in patients with obstructive airway disease must induce physicians to consider this eventuality. The coexistence of beta(1)- and beta(2)-adrenoceptors in the heart clearly indicates that beta(2)-agonists do have some effect on the heart, even when they are highly selective. It should also be taken into account that the beta(2)-agonists utilised in clinical practice have differing selectivities and potencies. beta(2)-agonist use has, in effect, been associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrest and sudden cardiac death. Moreover, patients who have either asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be at increased risk of cardiovascular complications because these diseases amplify the impact of these agents on the heart and, unfortunately, are a confounding factor when the impact of beta(2)-agonists on the heart is evaluated. Whatever the case may be, this effect is of particular concern for those patients with underlying cardiac conditions. Therefore, beta(2)-agonists must always be used with caution in patients with cardiopathies because these agents may precipitate the concomitant cardiac disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists*
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / adverse effects*
  • Albuterol / adverse effects
  • Albuterol / analogs & derivatives
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Ethanolamines / adverse effects
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart / physiology
  • Heart Failure / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Metered Dose Inhalers
  • Myocardial Infarction / chemically induced
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1 / physiology
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2 / physiology
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate


  • Adrenergic beta-2 Receptor Agonists
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Ethanolamines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-1
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta-2
  • Salmeterol Xinafoate
  • Albuterol
  • Formoterol Fumarate