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Beta-blocker benefit in atherosclerosis?

Giving a beta-blocker may help to slow progression of atherosclerosis, according to Swedish research. 

Dr G. Bondjers (University of Gothenburg) reported a study that was carried out to investigate whether treatment with metoprolol could affect subclinical atherosclerosis in patients with hypercholesterolaemia receiving lipid lowering drugs. He said that beta-blockers were known to reduce reinfarction after myocardial infarction and to reduce the risk of coronary events in hypertension. Several animal studies had indicated a positive effect on atheroscelerosis, but there had been no previous studies of their clinical effect.

His study, which included researchers from Astra Zeneca, involved patients with primary hypercholesterolaemia (cholesterol above 6.5) and subclinical atherosclerosis, identified as a maximum intima-media thickness of >1.0mm and/or a measurable plaque in the carotid artery.

Seventy-nine patients (35 on metoprolol 100mg and 44 on placebo) completed the study, with a three-year mean follow up. Hypercholesterolaemia was treated as normal, generally with a statin.

Dr Bondjers reported that the intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery decreased in the beta-blocker group and increased in the placebo group.

Although this was only preliminary data, it could indicate that beta-blockers had a favourable effect on atherosclerosis, he said.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20002119

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