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Pepper GS, Lee RW. Sympathetic Activation in Heart Failure and Its Treatment With β-Blockade. 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.
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