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Editorial
May 24, 2010

A Curious Case of β-Blockers in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, and the Providence Heart and Lung Institute, Vancouver, Canada.

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(10):849-850. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.97

β-Blockers are highly efficacious in the treatment of congestive heart failure and ischemic coronary syndromes and can reduce the total mortality of patients with these disorders by 30% to 40%.1 However, their use is frequently withheld inpatients who have coexisting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) because clinicians fear that β-blockers will provoke bronchospasm and induce respiratory failure in these patients. Not surprisingly, large epidemiological studies have shown that fewer than one-third of patients with COPD receive β-blockers after an acute coronary event2 despite compelling data that they prolong life and improve health outcomes in such patients.1

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