Sympathetic Activation in Heart Failure and Its Treatment With β-Blockade | Cardiology | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
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February 8, 1999

Sympathetic Activation in Heart Failure and Its Treatment With β-Blockade

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Arch Intern Med. 1999;159(3):225-234. doi:10.1001/archinte.159.3.225

Multiple models explaining the pathogenesis of heart failure have been put forth during the past 5 decades. These models were modified as clinical evidence supported or refuted their assumptions. During the past 2 decades, heart failure models emphasized the importance of neurohormonal systems in heart failure progression. The positive impact that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors have had on mortality from heart failure has bolstered the neurohormonal theory. Attention recently has turned to the sympathetic nervous system and its potential deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system in heart failure. The sympathetic nervous system can negatively impact the cardiovascular system in heart failure in several ways, including down-regulating β1-receptors, exerting direct toxic effects on the myocardium, and contributing to myocardial remodeling and life-threatening arrhythmias. β-Adrenergic blockers have shown promise for reducing morbidity and mortality in heart failure, but definitive reductions in mortality remain to be shown by future investigations.