One hundred and six patients with acute myocardial infarction admitted to hospital within four hours after the onset of symptoms were randomised to treatment with intravenous timolol (54 patients) or placebo (52 patients). Serum potassium concentrations were estimated at frequent intervals during the first 24 hours of admission. Patients in both treatment groups, who did not receive subsequent diuretic treatment, had a transient rise in serum potassium concentration, which was maximal after four hours. This rise was abolished by diuretic treatment in the placebo group but not in the timolol group, in which there was a pronounced and prolonged rise in serum potassium concentration. The change in serum potassium concentration in the first four hours after admission correlated with cumulative creatine kinase release in the placebo group, but not in the timolol group. Hypokalaemia (serum potassium concentration less than or equal to 3.5 mmol/l) occurred in 15 (28.8%) patients in the placebo group and in seven (13%) in the timolol group and was independent of infarct size. The frequency of hyperkalaemia was not increased in the timolol group. By increasing the serum potassium concentration and preventing hypokalaemia, the use of intravenous timolol early in acute myocardial infarction may have important clinical effects in addition to reducing infarct size.
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