β-Blocker therapy for cirrhotic cardiomyopathy: a randomized-controlled trial

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Abstract

Background

Cirrhotic cardiomyopathy is characterized by an attenuated contractile response to stress. Long-term exposure of β-adrenergic receptors to persistently high levels of catecholamines has been implicated in its pathogenesis. We hypothesized that β-blockade with metoprolol could reverse the changes in heart function and morphology in cirrhotic cardiomyopathy.

Patients and methods

In this prospective randomized trial, we included 78 patients aged between 18 and 60 years with abnormal cardiac output response under dobutamine stress echocardiography, without primary cardiac disease or a history of alcohol intake. Patients were assigned randomly to receive metoprolol or placebo for 6 months. The primary endpoint was the improvement in cardiac output response to stress, measured by an increase in the left ventricle stroke volume more than 30%.

Results

Three (7.3%) patients in the metoprolol group and nine (24.3%) patients in the placebo group showed improved stroke volume (P=0.057). Diastolic dysfunction was found in two (4.8%) patients before and in five (15.6%) patients after therapy in the metoprolol group, and in 10 (27%) patients before and nine (31%) patients after therapy in the placebo group (P=0.67). After treatment, no echocardiography parameter of morphology was significantly different between metoprolol or placebo groups. No significant differences were observed in noradrenaline, plasma renin activity, and troponin levels between groups. Cirrhosis-related clinical events, including hospitalizations and mortality, were not significantly different between the two groups. Six months of therapy with β-blocker did not ameliorate heart function and morphology in patients with cirrhotic cardiomyopathy.

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