Background: We sought to examine the relationship between use of beta-blockers and the severity of central sleep apnea (CSA) in patients with chronic heart failure.
Methods: We performed polysomnography in 45 patients with chronic heart failure (New York Heart Association functional class II/III and left ventricular ejection fraction < 50%) and examined the relationship between use of beta-blockers and the severity of CSA. Central apnea index (CAI) was used as an indicator of CSA.
Results: Patients receiving beta-blockers (ie, carvedilol; n = 27) had lower apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and CAI than patients not receiving beta-blockers (n = 18) [mean +/- SD, 14 +/- 11 vs 33 +/- 17, p < 0.0001; and 1.9 +/- 3.2 vs 11 +/- 12, p = 0.0004, respectively]. AHI and CAI were negatively correlated with the dose of carvedilol (Spearman rho = - 0.61, p < 0.0001; and Spearman rho = - 0.57, p = 0.0002, respectively). Multiple regression analysis selected no use of beta-blockers as an independent factor of CAI (p = 0.0006). In five patients with CAI > 5 who underwent serial sleep studies, CAI decreased significantly after 6 months of treatment with carvedilol (9.5 +/- 4.9 to 1.3 +/- 2.4, p = 0.03).
Conclusions: In patients with chronic heart failure, CAI was lower according to the dose of beta-blockers, and no use of beta-blockers was independently associated with CAI. In addition, 6 months of treatment with carvedilol decreased CAI. These results suggest that beta-blocker therapy may dose-dependently suppress CSA in patients with chronic heart failure.