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Earlier use for beta blockers?

Earlier use for beta blockers?

(This article was first printed in the June 2005 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter. For more information or to order, please go to

Beta blockers are recommended for most heart attack survivors and people with heart failure for one simple reason — they help such folks live longer. It’s possible they may do the same thing for people with less severe forms of heart disease.

That’s the conclusion of an interesting study out of Salt Lake City. Researchers followed more than 4,000 men and women who had an angiogram showing at least one clogged coronary artery. None of them, though, had been through a heart attack or had heart failure. Some left the hospital after the procedure with a prescription for a beta blocker, others didn’t.

After an average of three years, 94.5% of those prescribed a beta blocker were still alive, compared with 88.3% of those who weren’t. Heart attacks were equally common in both groups.

This report, which appeared in the April 1, 2005, American Journal of Cardiology, is the first word, not the last, on beta blockers and early heart disease. If confirmed by other studies, it could extend the life-saving uses of this medication.

The Harvard Health Letter is your monthly guide to heart health

Harvard Heart Letter

If you’re concerned about heart disease, you need expert information and advice you can trust. The Harvard Heart Letter, from Harvard Medical School, is your monthly advisory on the latest developments in heart health, new treatments, prevention, and research breakthroughs. Read more »