BACKGROUND - Although beta-blockers were well-tolerated by heart failure (HF) patients in clinical trials, tolerability of these drugs in a general population of HF patients is not well-described.
METHODS - We studied a total of 308 encounters with beta-blockers therapy in 268 ambulatory HF patients. Side effects and frequency and predictors of discontinuation of therapy were studied. Independent predictors of discontinuation were assessed.
RESULTS - Weight gain (59%), fatigue (56%), dizziness (41%), and dyspnea (29%) were the most common side effects. Fifty-one patients (19%) were discontinued on therapy with any 1 particular beta-blocker. Fatigue (30%) and hypotension (28%) were the most common reasons for discontinuation. Forty (78%) of these were given a trial with a different beta-blocker. Of these, 22 (55%) attempts with a different beta-blocker were tolerated. Thus the overall absolute discontinuation rate was only 7% for patients who were given a trial with different beta-blockers or 11% for the entire study population. Independent predictors of discontinuation of therapy included advanced symptoms, nonischemic etiology, history of pulmonary disease, and higher diuretic doses.
CONCLUSION - Side effects with beta-blockers in a general population of HF patients are common; however, with changes in medical management, most patients can tolerate them eventually. In case of intolerance to one kind, a trial with a different beta-blocker is indicated.