The Impact of beta blockade on the cardio-respiratory system and symptoms during exercise
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BACKGROUND: Beta blockers prolong life in patients with cardiovascular diseases. Negative chronotropic and inotropic effects carry the potential to adversely effect peripheral skeletal and airway smooth muscle contributing to further fatigue, dyspnea and exercise intolerance. RESEARCH QUESTIONS: Do beta-blockers reduce maximal power output (MPO), VO2 max, cardiorespiratory responses, increase the perceived effort required to cycle and breath during cardiopulmonary exercise tests (CPET) and limit the capacity to exercise? METHODS: Retrospective observational study of subjects performing CPET to capacity from 1988 to 2012. Subjects with and without beta-blockers were compared: baseline physiological characteristics, MPO, VO2 max, heart rate max, ventilation responses and perceived exertion required to cycle and breathe (modified Borg scale). Forward stepwise linear additive regression was performed with MPO as the dependent factor with height, age, gender, muscle strength, FEV1 and DLCO as independent contributors. RESULTS: 42,771 subjects were included 7,787 were receiving beta-blocker [mean age 61 yrs, BMI 28.40 kg/m2, 9% airflow obstruction (FEV1/FVC<0.7)] and 34,984 were not [mean age 51yrs, BMI 27.40 kg/m2, 11% airflow obstruction]. Heart rate was lower by 18.2% (95% C.I. 18.15-18.38) (p<0.0001) while Oxygen pulse (VO2/HR) was higher by 19.5% (95% C.I. 19.3-19.7) in those receiving beta blockers. Maximum power output (MPO) was 3.3% lower in those taking beta-blockers. The perceived effort required to cycle and breathe (mBorg) was 8% lower in those taking beta-blockers. INTERPRETATION: Increases in oxygen pulse minimize the reduction in exercise intolerance and symptom handicap associated with beta-blockers.