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Can beta-blockers be used for people with COPD?
  • Relevant BNF section: BNF 2.4


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a disabling condition characterised by largely irreversible airflow obstruction, and affects over 3 million people in the UK.1 Due in large part to shared risk factors - notably smoking - patients with COPD often also have cardiovascular diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease and heart failure.2 3 In these conditions, beta-blockers are valuable management options with proven benefits on symptoms and mortality.46 Historically, however, clinicians have been reluctant to prescribe beta-blockers for patients with co-existing COPD, due to fear of provoking bronchoconstriction.3 Moreover, such patients have typically been excluded from trials of beta-blockers, raising additional concerns about the basis for treating them with these drugs.7 However, withholding beta-blocker therapy might lead to suboptimal treatment for cardiovascular disease among these patients. Here we review the efficacy and safety of beta-blockers in patients with COPD.

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  • Relevant BNF section: BNF 2.4

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