Abstract

Aims

There is a paucity of studies investigating a dose-dependent association between beta-blocker therapy and risk of outcome. In a nationwide cohort of primary prevention implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) patients, we aimed to investigate the dose-dependent association between beta-blocker therapy and risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmias (VT/VF), heart failure (HF) hospitalizations, and death.

Methods and results

Information on ICD implantation, endpoints, comorbidities, beta-blocker usage, type, and dose were obtained through Danish nationwide registers. The two major beta-blockers carvedilol and metoprolol were examined in three dose levels; low (metoprolol ≤ 25 mg; carvedilol ≤ 12.5 mg), intermediate (metoprolol 26–199 mg; carvedilol 12.6–49.9 mg), and high (metoprolol ≥ 200 mg; carvedilol ≥ 50 mg). Time to events was investigated utilizing multivariate Cox models with beta-blocker as a time-dependent variable. From 2007 to 2012, 2935 first-time ICD devices were implanted. During follow-up, 399 patients experienced VT/VF, 728 HF hospitalizations and 361 died. As compared with patients not on beta-blockers, low, intermediate, and high dose had significantly reduced risk of HF hospitalizations {hazard ratio (HR) = 0.68 [0.54–0.87], P = 0.002; HR = 0.53 [0.42–0.66], P < 0.001; HR = 0.43 [0.34–0.54], P < 0.001} and death (HR = 0.47 [0.35–0.64], P < 0.001; HR = 0.29 [0.22–0.39], P = 0.001; HR = 0.24 [0.18–0.33], P < 0.001). For the endpoint of VT/VF, only intermediate and high dose beta-blocker was associated with significantly reduced risk (HR = 0.58 [0.43–0.79], P < 0.001; HR = 0.53 [0.39–0.72], P < 0.001). No significant difference was found between comparable doses of carvedilol and metoprolol on any endpoint (P = 0.06–0.94).

Conclusion

In primary prevention ICD patients, beta-blocker therapy was associated with significantly reduced risk of all endpoints, as compared with patients not on beta-blocker, with the suggestion of a dose-dependent effect. No detectable difference was found between comparable doses of carvedilol and metoprolol.