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Treatment of chronic heart failure with β adrenergic blockade beyond controlled clinical trials: the BRING-UP experience
  1. A P Maggioni1,
  2. G Sinagra2,
  3. C Opasich3,
  4. E Geraci4,
  5. M Gorini1,
  6. E Gronda5,
  7. D Lucci1,
  8. G Tognoni6,
  9. E Balli7,
  10. L Tavazzi8,
  11. on behalf of BRING-UP Investigators*
  1. 1ANMCO Research Centre, Florence, Italy
  2. 2Department of Cardiology, Maggiore Hospital, Trieste, Italy
  3. 3Department of Cardiology, Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri, Pavia, Italy
  4. 4Department of Cardiology, Cervello Hospital, Palermo, Italy
  5. 5Department of Cardiology, Istituto Clinico Humanitas, Milan, Italy
  6. 6Mario Negri Institute, Milan, Italy
  7. 7Department of Cardiology, Spedali Riuniti, Pistoia, Italy
  8. 8Department of Cardiology, S Matteo Hospital, Pavia, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Aldo P Maggioni, ANMCO Research Centre, Via La Marmora, 34-50121 Florence, Italy;


Background: Several large controlled trials have shown that β blockers given to patients with heart failure (New York Heart Association functional class II–IV) reduce morbidity and mortality. Despite these impressive results, implementing the use of β blockade in clinical practice appears slow and difficult. The BRING-UP study was designed to tackle this problem.

Objectives: To accelerate the adoption of β blockade in clinical practice; to provide an epidemiological estimate of the proportion of patients with heart failure suitable for this treatment in general cardiology care; and to assess effectiveness of these drugs outside the setting of clinical trials.

Methods: The design of the study and recommendations derived from available evidence on the use of β blockers were discussed with cardiologists during regional meetings. All consecutive heart failure patients in a one month period, whether treated or not with β blockers, were eligible for the study. In each patient, the decision to prescribe a β blocker was a free choice for the participating physicians. All centres were provided with carvedilol, metoprolol, and bisoprolol at appropriate doses; the choice of the drug and dosage was left to the responsible clinician. All patients were followed for one year.

Results: 197 cardiological centres enrolled 3091 patients, 24.9% of whom were already on β blocker treatment at baseline. β Blockers were newly prescribed in 32.7% of cases, more often in younger and less severely ill patients. The mean daily dose of the drugs used at one year corresponded to about 70% of the maximum dose used in clinical trials. Starting treatment with β blockers did not affect the prescription or dosage of other recommended drugs. The overall rate of β blocker treatment increased over the year of the study from 24.9% to 49.7%. During the 12 month period, 351 deaths occurred (11.8%). In multivariate analysis, the use of β blockers was independently associated with a better prognosis, with a relative risk of 0.60 and a lower incidence of hospital admissions for worsening heart failure.

Conclusions: The implementation of β blockers in clinical practice is feasible and could be accelerated. These drugs are associated with a lower mortality and reduced hospital admission rates, not only in clinical trials but also in the normal clinical setting.

  • heart failure
  • β blockers
  • observational studies

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  • * See the appendix for a complete list of participating centres and investigators