Comparative Effectiveness of β-Blockers in Elderly Patients With Heart Failure

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Whether β-blockers (BBs) other than carvedilol, metoprolol succinate, and bisoprolol fumarate (evidence-based β-blockers [EBBBs]) improve survival in patients with heart failure (HF) is unknown. We compared the effectiveness of EBBBs vs non-EBBBs on survival.


Our study population included North Carolina residents at least 65 years old who were eligible for Medicare and Medicaid with pharmacy benefits and had had at least 1 hospitalization for HF during the period 2001 through 2004. Primary outcome was survival from 30 days to 1 year. Secondary outcomes included number and days of rehospitalizations for HF and number of outpatient visits. Cohorts were defined by BB class (EBBBs, non-EBBBs, or no BBs) in first 30 days after discharge from index hospitalization for HF. Outcomes were analyzed using inverse probability–weighted (IPW) estimators with propensity score adjustment.


Of 11 959 patients, 40% were nonwhite, 79% were female, and 26% were at least 85 years old. Fifty-nine percent received no BB, 23% received EBBBs, and 18% received non-EBBBs. One-year adjusted mortality rates were 28.3% (no BBs), 22.8% (non-EBBBs), and 24.2% (EBBBs). The IPW-adjusted comparisons of 1-year mortality outcomes for either non-EBBBs or EBBBs compared with no BBs were statistically significant (P = .002 for both), but there was no statistical difference between the 2 BB groups (P = .43). The IPW-adjusted mean numbers of rehospitalizations for HF were 0.33 (no BBs), 0.29 (non-EBBBs), and 0.41 (EBBBs), with statistically more rehospitalizations in patients receiving EBBBs compared with no BBs (P = .002) and with non-EBBBs (P < .001).


In this elderly population, the comparative effectiveness of EBBBs vs non-EBBBs was similar for 1-year survival, whereas the rehospitalization rate was higher for patients receiving EBBBs.

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