Beta-Blockers for Hypertension Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Failure Among Women

July 23, 2020 Updated: July 23, 2020

Beta-blockers are commonly prescribed to adults with hypertension, a leading cause of CVD. This study set out to find the effects of beta-blockers on men and women with hypertension and no history of CVD.

Past studies have primarily focused on the effects of beta-blockers on men. Therefore, for this study, researchers set out to examine how gender plays a role in patient outcomes.

Men have much higher levels of hypertension.

Raffaele Bugiardini, M.D., professor of cardiology at the University of Bologna and lead author of the study, said, “Women are historically underrepresented in most clinical studies on hypertension. It’s important to include an equal split of male and female patients in future research, which could shed light on disparities and actionable treatments.”

For the study, researchers analyzed information from the International Survey of Acute Coronary Syndromes (ISACS) Archives, the ISACS-TC, and the EMMACE-3X clinical registries from October 2010 to July 2018. Data were included from 13,764 adults in 12 European countries who had high blood pressure and no prior history of cardiovascular disease. All participants were separated into two groups, those taking beta-blockers and those who were not. They were also identified by gender.

Higher Rates of Heart Failure in Women

The study concluded that women who were taking the beta-blockers had a 4.6 percent higher rate of heart failure than men when admitted to hospital with acute coronary syndrome. The mortality rate of both men and women with heart failure was approximately seven times that of patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and no heart failure complications.

It was also found that women who had ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) were 6.1 percent more likely to have heart failure than men with STEMI. This is a serious form of heart attack where a coronary artery is completely blocked, and a large part of the heart muscle is unable to receive blood. With this condition, men and women not taking beta-blockers had approximately the same rate of heart failure.

“What we found presents a solid case for re-examination of the use of beta-blocker therapy for women with hypertension. For women who have no history of cardiovascular disease and only hypertension, we think it is incredibly important for them to regulate their blood pressure through diet and exercise,” Bugiardini said.

“It’s possible that the increased risk of heart failure for women is due to an interaction between hormone replacement therapy and beta-blockers, though this information was not collected or tested in our study. This and other potential factors need to be investigated in more depth.”

Researchers do warn that this study has some limitations. Since the study was observational, the results could show some variance and additional data is needed to confirm data.

Mat Lecompte is a freelance health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.