A 52 year old man with severe chronic left ventricular failure (New York Heart Association class IV) was considered unsuitable for cardiac transplantation because of high and irreversible pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR). In an attempt to produce symptomatic improvement, metoprolol was cautiously introduced, initially at 6.25 mg twice daily. This was slowly increased to 50 mg twice daily over a two month period and continued thereafter. After four months of treatment the patient’s symptoms had improved dramatically. His exercise tolerance had increased and diuretic requirements reduced to frusemide 160 mg/day only. Assessment of right heart pressures was repeated and, other than a drop in resting heart rate, there was little change in his pulmonary artery pressure or PVR. His right heart pressures were reassessed showing a pronounced reduction in pulmonary artery pressure and a significant reduction in PVR, which fell further with inhaled oxygen and sublingual nitrates. He was then accepted onto the active waiting list for cardiac transplantation. A possible mechanism of action was investigated by assessing responses to β agonists during treatment. Not only was there pronounced improvement in PVR but it was also demonstrated that β receptor subtype crossregulation may have contributed to the mechanism of benefit.
- β blockers
- pulmonary hypertension
- heart failure
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