Beta-adrenergic receptor blocking agents (beta-blockers) are drugs with multiple actions on the heart. Blockade of beta-1 receptors results in slowing of heart rate, reduction in myocardial contractility, and lowering of systemic blood pressure. In the context of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), which represents a state of reduced oxygen supply to the affected portion of the heart, these effects may be beneficial as they result in reduced myocardial workload and oxygen demand. Furthermore, beta-blockers may reduce the risk of ventricular arrhythmias, which are an important cause of death following AMI.
Women taking beta blockers for hypertension with no prior history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) have a nearly 5% higher risk for heart failure than men when they present to hospital with acute coronary syndrome, according to new research published today in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal.