Chronic heart failure (HF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) commonly coexist, and patients with both diseases fare worse than those with either disease alone. Several factors may contribute to worse outcomes, including an increased burden of care related to greater disease complexity, an overlap of symptoms resulting in misapplication of therapy, and the adverse effects of treatment for one disease on the symptoms and outcomes related to the other. For example, there are conflicting data about the cardiovascular risks of bronchodilators in HF patients who may experience worse outcomes with inhaled beta-2 agonists via arrhythmogenesis, ischemia, and/or attenuation of beta-blocker benefits. In contrast, the long-acting anticholinergic class of bronchodilators has a more reassuring safety profile. Anticholinergic bronchodilators may be the preferred first-line agents for COPD patients with comorbid HF, yet data supporting these recommendations are limited. Therapeutic trials in COPD patients have generally excluded patients with significant HF and vice-versa. This paper reviews bronchodilator therapy in HF and proposes a randomized trial designed to enroll patients with significant COPD and HF to determine the risks and/or benefits of adding a long-acting beta-2 agonist to patients currently taking a long-acting anticholinergic agent.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.