Does atrial fibrillation in elderly patients with chronic heart failure limit the efficacy of carvedilol? Suggestions from an observational study

Department of Cardiology, S. Maugeri Foundation, Institute of Care and Scientific Research, Pavia, Italy.
Italian heart journal: official journal of the Italian Federation of Cardiology 04/2005; 6(4):323-7.
Source: PubMed


No clinical investigation provided any information about a possible influence of atrial fibrillation on the response to beta-blocker therapy in elderly patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). The aim of this study was to observe carvedilol effects in a cohort of patients > 70 years of age with CHF due to left ventricular dysfunction and with chronic atrial fibrillation.
An observational, 12-month prospective clinical and echocardiographic study was carried out on 240 patients > 70 years of age with heart failure due to systolic dysfunction, 64 of whom with atrial fibrillation.
After 1 year of beta-blocker treatment, patients with atrial fibrillation and those in sinus rhythm showed similar benefits, in terms of symptomatic improvement (deltaNYHA -0.44 if atrial fibrillation vs -0.57 if sinus rhythm, p = NS), reduction of events (death + hospitalizations -38 vs -15%), recovery of cardiac function (left ventricular ejection fraction delta +8.8 vs +9.4%, p = NS; left ventricular end-diastolic volume delta -17.2 vs -12.5 ml, p = NS), and reduction in mitral regurgitation (delta -042 vs -0.57, p = NS). No difference was found between the two study groups regarding left ventricular end-diastolic volume reduction (12% in atrial fibrillation patients and 18% in sinus rhythm patients, p = NS) and prevalence of the "reverse remodeling" phenomenon (22 and 21%, respectively, p = NS).
In CHF patients > 70 years of age, beta-adrenergic blockade was shown to be equally effective in improving symptoms and left ventricular geometry and function in patients with atrial fibrillation or in sinus rhythm, without any adjunctive sign of long-term clinical deterioration.

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