Up to 50 percent of patients with heart failure have normal or near-normal ejection fraction, termed heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF).
The risk of death in HFPEF may be as high as in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFREF), but there is no proven therapy.
Beta-blockers improve outcomes in HFREF and may be beneficial in HFPEF, but data are sparse and inconclusive, and beta-blockers are currently not indicated for treating HFPEF, according to background information in the article.
Lars H. Lund, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a study to examine whether beta-blockers are associated with reduced mortality in heart failure patients with preserved ejection fraction - a measure of how well the left ventricle of the heart pumps with each contraction.
The researchers used data from the Swedish Heart Failure Registry, which includes 67 hospitals with inpatient and outpatient units and 95 outpatient primary care clinics in Sweden. This analysis included 41,976 patients, 19,083 patients with HFPEF. Of these, 8,244 were matched 2:1 based on age and beta-blocker use, yielding 5,496 treated and 2,748 untreated patients with HFPEF. Another analysis involved 22,893 patients with HFREF, of whom 6,081were matched, yielding 4,054 treated with beta-blockers and 2,027 untreated patients.
In the matched HFPEF cohort, 5-year survival was 45 percent vs 42 percent for treated vs untreated patients, with 2,279 (41 percent) vs 1,244 (45 percent) total deaths, and a seven percent reduction in the risk of death. Beta-blockers were not associated with reduced combined mortality or heart failure hospitalizations: 3,368 (61 percent) vs 1,753 (64 percent) total for first events. In the matched HFREF cohort, beta-blockers were associated with reduced mortality and also with reduced combined mortality or heart failure hospitalization.
"In patients with HFPEF, use of beta-blockers was associated with lower all-cause mortality but not with lower combined allcause mortality or heart failure hospitalization," the authors write. "Beta-blockers in HFPEF should be examined in a large randomized clinical trial."