Beta blockers have been known to decrease mortality rates in patients who have conditions like congestive heart failure, heart disease or high blood pressure. This is great news, but what about patients who have one of these conditions who also suffer from COPD? Because one of the side effects of beta blockers is bronchoconstriction, are COPD patients able to safely take beta blockers without experiencing a worsening in respiratory status?
In a meta-analysis of 19 clinical controlled trials, this question was investigated as scientists assessed the differences in FEV1 response to a beta blocker and patient reported respiratory symptoms. Researchers concluded that patients who received cardioselective drugs such as metroprolol, atenolol or bisoprolol, did not experience a significant reduction in FEV1, a worsening of COPD symptoms, or a decreased responsiveness to a beta agonist. Similar results were also reported for an analysis of patients with severe COPD. The study concluded that cardioselective beta blockers should not be withheld from COPD patients.
What should you do with this information? If you have a heart condition that would benefit from the use of a beta blocker, talk with your health care provider about which one would be safest for you to use in spite of a diagnosis of COPD. When taking a medication such as a beta blocker for a heart condition, take only as directed. Never take a medication that is not prescribed for you.
If you do experience a worsening of shortness of breath or other serious side effects while taking a beta blocker, be sure to notify your health care provider as soon as possible to determine the best possible course of action.