Dose-limiting, adverse event–associated bradycardia with β-blocker treatment of atrial fibrillation in the GENETIC-AF trial Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Heart failure (HF) patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) often have conduction system disorders, which may be worsened by β-blocker therapy. OBJECTIVE: In a post hoc analysis we examined the prevalence of bradycardia and its association with adverse events (AEs) and failure to achieve target dose in the GENETIC-AF trial. METHODS: Patients randomized to metoprolol (n = 125) or bucindolol (n = 131) entering 24-week efficacy follow-up and receiving study medication were evaluated. Bradycardia was defined as an electrocardiogram (ECG) heart rate (HR) <60 beats per minute (bpm) and severe bradycardia <50 bpm. RESULTS: Mean HR in sinus rhythm (SR) was 62.6 ± 12.5 bpm for metoprolol and 68.3 ± 11.1 bpm for bucindolol (P < .0001), but in AF HRs were not different (87.5 bpm vs 89.7 bpm, respectively). Episodes per patient for bucindolol vs metoprolol were 0.82 vs 2.08 (P < .001) for bradycardia and 0.24 vs 0.57 for severe bradycardia (P < .001), with 98.9% of the episodes occurring in SR. Patients experiencing bradycardia had a 4.15-fold higher prevalence of study medication dose reduction (P <.0001) compared to patients without bradycardia. Fewer patients receiving metoprolol were at target dose (61.7% vs 74.9% for bucindolol, P < .0001) at ECG recordings, and bradycardia AEs were more prevalent in the metoprolol group (13 vs 1 for bucindolol, P = .001). On multivariate analysis of 21 candidate bradycardia predictors including presence of a device with pacing capability, bucindolol treatment was associated with the greatest degree of prevention (Zodds ratio -4.24, P < .0001). CONCLUSION: In AF-prone HF patients bradycardia may limit the effectiveness of β blockers, and this property is agent-dependent.


  • Abraham, William T
  • Piccini, Jonathan P
  • Dufton, Christopher
  • Carroll, Ian A
  • Healey, Jeffrey Sean
  • O’Connor, Christopher M
  • Marshall, Debra
  • Aleong, Ryan
  • van Veldhuisen, Dirk J
  • Rienstra, Michiel
  • Wilton, Stephen B
  • White, Michel
  • Sauer, William H
  • Anand, Inder S
  • Huebler, Sophia P
  • Connolly, Stuart J
  • Bristow, Michael R

publication date

  • February 2022