The evolving role of ?-adrenergic receptor blockers in managing hypertension.

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The evolving role of ?-adrenergic receptor blockers in managing hypertension.

Can J Cardiol. 2012 May;28(3):334-40

Authors: Poirier L, Lacourcière Y


?-Adrenergic blocking agents (or ?-blockers) have been widely used for the treatment of hypertension for the past 50 years, and continue to be recommended as a mainstay of therapy in many national guidelines. They have also been used in a variety of cardiovascular conditions commonly complicating hypertension, including angina pectoris, myocardial infarction (MI), acute and chronic heart failure, as well as conditions like essential tremor and migraine. Moreover, they have played a primary role in controlling blood pressure in patients with these specific comorbidities and in reducing cardiovascular risk with regard to the composite outcome of death, stroke, and MI among patients younger than 60 years of age. However, in patients 60 years of age or older, ?-blockers were not associated with significantly lower rates of MI, heart failure or death, and demonstrated higher rates of stroke compared with other first-line therapies. Consequently, the Canadian Hypertension Education Program recommends the use of ?-blockers as first-line therapy in hypertensive patients younger than 60 years of age but not for those age 60 and older, with the exception of patients with concomitant ?-blocker-requiring cardiac diseases. Several reports suggest that the lack of consistent outcome data may relate to the use of traditional ?-blockers such as atenolol and their ability only to reduce cardiac output, without beneficial effect on peripheral vascular resistance. The present report will describe the clinically relevant mechanisms of action of ?-blockers, their pharmacological differences, their metabolic effects, and their usefulness in patients with hypertension.

PMID: 22595449 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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