International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 802–807 | Cite as

Initiation or maintenance of beta-blocker therapy in patients hospitalized for acute heart failure

  • Luiz Carlos PassosEmail author
  • Márcio Galvão Oliveira
  • Andre Rodrigues Duraes
  • Thiago Moreira Trindade
  • Andréa Cristina Costa Barbosa
Original Article


Background Beta-blockers have been recommended for patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction for their long-term benefits. However, the tolerance to betablockers in patients hospitalized with acute heart failure should be evaluated. Objective To estimate the proportion of patients hospitalized with acute heart failure who can tolerate these agents in clinical practice and compare the clinical outcomes of patients who can and cannot tolerate treatment with beta-blockers. Setting Two reference hospitals in cardiology. Methods Retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients hospitalized for acute heart failure between September 2008 and May 2012. Population-based sample. During the study period, 325 patients were admitted consecutively, including 194 individuals with an acute heart failure diagnosis and systolic left ventricular dysfunction and ejection fraction ≤45 %, who were candidates for the initiation or continuation of beta-blockers. Main outcome measure The percentage of patients intolerant to beta-blockers and the clinical characteristics of patients. Results On admission, 61.8 % of patients were already using beta-blockers, and 73.2 % were using beta-blockers on discharge. During hospitalization, 85 % of patients used these agents for some period. The main reasons for not using betablockers were low cardiac output syndrome (24.4 %), bradycardia (24.4 %), severe hypotension or shock (17.8 %), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (13.3 %). Patients who were intolerant or did not use a beta-blocker had a longer hospital stay (18.3 vs. 11.0 days; p < .001), greater use of vasoactive drugs (41.5 vs. 16.3 %; p < .001, CI 1.80–7.35), sepsis and septic shock (RR = 3.02; CI 95 % 1.59–5.75), and higher mortality rate during hospitalization (22.6 vs. 2.9 %; p < .001; CI 3.05–32.26). Conclusion Beta-blockers could be used in 73.2 % of patients hospitalized for acute heart failure. Patients who can not tolerate BB presented a higher frequency of adverse clinical outcomes including frequency of sepsis, use of vasoactive drugs, average length of hospitalization, and death.


Acute heart failure Beta-blockers Brazil 



We thank the Cardiology residents and undergraduate students who participated in data collection: Rafael Britto Fernandes, Nathalie Meira Castro Aguiar, Geraldo José Bensabath Filho, Paula Graziela Figueredo, Elaine Alves Santos Tessie. We thank the President of the Cardiology Bahia Foundation, Alvaro Rabelo Jr., for creating a suitable academic environment and developing electronic media that enabled a faster data review.


This study was partially funded by the scientific initiation program of the Federal University of Bahia, CNPQ, and FAPESB.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luiz Carlos Passos
    • 1
    Email author
  • Márcio Galvão Oliveira
    • 2
  • Andre Rodrigues Duraes
    • 3
  • Thiago Moreira Trindade
    • 1
  • Andréa Cristina Costa Barbosa
    • 4
  1. 1.Post Graduate Program in Medicine and HealthFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  2. 2.Anísio Teixeira Campus, Multidisciplinary Health InstituteFederal University of BahiaVitória da ConquistaBrazil
  3. 3.Ana Nery HospitalSalvadorBrazil
  4. 4.Cardiology Bahia FoundationSalvadorBrazil

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