Left ventricular function and exercise capacity were assessed in 79 patients randomised to receive intravenous and oral propranolol (n = 44) or conventional therapy (n = 35) within four hours of onset of their first myocardial infarction. Cineangiocardiography and exercise testing were performed four weeks after infarction to allow for maximum recovery of myocardial function. Left ventriculography showed no improvement in ejection fraction or preservation of regional contractile function in patients treated with propranolol compared with controls. A trend towards smaller end diastolic volumes was seen in the propranolol group (mean (SD) 151(42) ml) compared with controls (167(42) ml). Exercise duration and frequency of angina were not significantly different in the two groups. It is concluded that limitation of infarct size by propranolol does not lead to a significant improvement in ventricular systolic function, although left ventricular dilatation may be reduced. These findings are consistent with the known effect of early intravenous beta blockade which limits infarct size by preservation of subepicardial myocardium.
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