Differences between beta-blockers in patients with chronic heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a randomized crossover trial

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2010 Apr 27;55(17):1780-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.01.024.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the respiratory, hemodynamic, and clinical effects of switching between beta1-selective and nonselective beta-blockers in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Background: Carvedilol, metoprolol succinate, and bisoprolol are established beta-blockers for treating CHF. Whether differences in beta-receptor specificities affect lung or vascular function in CHF patients, particularly those with coexistent COPD, remains incompletely characterized.

Methods: A randomized, open label, triple-crossover trial involving 51 subjects receiving optimal therapy for CHF was conducted in 2 Australian teaching hospitals. Subjects received each beta-blocker, dose-matched, for 6 weeks before resuming their original beta-blocker. Echocardiography, N-terminal pro-hormone brain natriuretic peptide, central augmented pressure from pulse waveform analysis, respiratory function testing, 6-min walk distance, and New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class were assessed at each visit.

Results: Of 51 subjects with a mean age of 66 +/- 12 years, NYHA functional class I (n = 6), II (n = 29), or III (n = 16), and left ventricular ejection fraction mean of 37 +/- 10%, 35 had coexistent COPD. N-terminal pro-hormone brain natriuretic peptide was significantly lower with carvedilol than with metoprolol or bisoprolol (mean: carvedilol 1,001 [95% confidence interval (CI): 633 to 1,367] ng/l; metoprolol 1,371 [95% CI: 778 to 1,964] ng/l; bisoprolol 1,349 [95% CI: 782 to 1,916] ng/l; p < 0.01), and returned to baseline level on resumption of the initial beta-blocker. Central augmented pressure, a measure of pulsatile afterload, was lowest with carvedilol (carvedilol 9.9 [95% CI: 7.7 to 12.2] mm Hg; metoprolol 11.5 [95% CI: 9.3 to 13.8] mm Hg; bisoprolol 12.2 [95% CI: 9.6 to 14.7] mm Hg; p < 0.05). In subjects with COPD, forced expiratory volume in 1 s was lowest with carvedilol and highest with bisoprolol (carvedilol 1.85 [95% CI: 1.67 to 2.03] l/s; metoprolol 1.94 [95% CI: 1.73 to 2.14] l/s; bisoprolol 2.0 [95% CI: 1.79 to 2.22] l/s; p < 0.001). The NYHA functional class, 6-min walk distance, and left ventricular ejection fraction did not change. The beta-blocker switches were well tolerated.

Conclusions: Switching between beta1-selective beta-blockers and the nonselective beta-blocker carvedilol is well tolerated but results in demonstrable changes in airway function, most marked in patients with COPD. Switching from beta1-selective beta-blockers to carvedilol causes short-term reduction of central augmented pressure and N-terminal pro-hormone brain natriuretic peptide. (Comparison of Nonselective and Beta1-Selective Beta-Blockers on Respiratory and Arterial Function and Cardiac Chamber Dynamics in Patients With Chronic Stable Congestive Cardiac Failure; Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12605000504617).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bisoprolol / therapeutic use*
  • Carbazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Carvedilol
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Propanolamines / therapeutic use*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Pulse
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Walking


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Carbazoles
  • Propanolamines
  • Carvedilol
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain
  • Metoprolol
  • Bisoprolol