Beta-Blockers Slow Coronary Artery Disease

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Coronary Artery Disease

A class of drugs used to lower blood pressure and prevent symptoms in a variety of heart conditions, can slow progression and can even induce regression of coronary artery disease.

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Coronary artery disease or clogging of vessels supplying the heart is one of the most common causes of death in the United States and other developed countries. Currently, more than 15 million Americans have coronary artery disease.

Researchers aimed to identify whether beta-blockers have any effect on progression of coronary disease in a group of more than 1,500 patients with this disease. They began by measuring the amount of fatty plaque found in the arteries of these patients, using high-resolution intravascular ultrasound. This required the insertion of tiny ultrasonic transducers in the coronary arteries to provide a baseline examination.

Subsequently, the ultrasound examination was repeated after 18 to 24 months and the progression rate of coronary disease was compared in patients who were treated with beta-blockers and those who were not treated with these agents. The researchers found that patients treated with beta-blockers had a significant reduction in the amount of fatty plaque at the follow-up examination, whereas those not on a beta-blocker experienced no change in the amount of plaque.

"Our results have important implications," said Ilke Sipahi, M.D., F.A.C.C., a Cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and the study

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