Adrenergic beta-blocking agents were given to 7 patients with advanced congestive cardiomyopathy who had tachycardia at rest (98 plus or minus 13 beats/min). The patients were on beta-adrenergic receptor blockade for 2 to 12 months (average 5-4 months). One patient was given alprenolol 50 mg twice daily and the other patients were given practolol 50 to 400 mg twice daily. Virus infection had occurred in 6 of the patients before the onset of symptoms of cardiac disease. All patients were in a steady state or were progressively deteriorating at the start of beta-adrenergic receptor blockade. Conventional treatment with digitalis and diuretics was unaltered or reduced during treatment with beta-blocking agents. An improvement was seen in their clinical condition shortly after administration of the drugs. Continued treatment resulted in an increase in physical working capacity and a reduction of heart size. Noninvasive investigations including phonocardiogram, carotid pulse curve, apex cardiogram, and echocardiogram showed improved ventricular function in all cases. The present study indicates that adrenergic beta-blocking agents can improve heart function in at lease some patients with congestive cardiomyopathy. Furthermore, it is suggested that increased catecholamine activity may be an important factor for the development of this disease, as has been shown in animal experiments.
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