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Extensive randomised clinical trial data support the view that beta-blockers have a significant impact on the prognosis of patients with cardiovascular disease, especially those with coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure. Unfortunately, this essential treatment is often withheld from patients with asthma and from some patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The principal concern, a concern supported by a number of guidelines, is that beta-blockers may precipitate severe and potentially fatal bronchospasm. However, a number of studies, culminating in a recent meta-analysis, show that cardioselective beta-blockers are not only safe but are beneficial in patients with co-existing airways and coronary disease. In this article we review the evidence supporting the position that cardioselective beta-blockers, when introduced with care in both community and hospital settings, are safe in patients with mild airways disease and can significantly improve prognosis.

Original publication




Journal article


Prim Care Respir J

Publication Date





236 - 241