- It has been reported that use of beta blockers may not be safe after cardiac transplantation because the denervated hearts may be largely dependent on circulating catecholamines to increase cardiac output. Therefore, the effects of intravenous propranolol were studied during maximal treadmill exercise in 7 patients with heterotopic and 6 with orthotopic cardiac transplantations. An average decrease of about 15% in exercise duration (p less than 0.001), a 34% reduction in systolic blood pressure increase (p less than 0.05) and a 40% attenuation in heart rate increase (p less than 0.001) were observed after beta blockade. In patients with heterotopic transplantation, beta blockade produced similar effects on heart rate in the denervated donor hearts and the innervated recipient hearts during and after mild exercise. During peak exercise, beta blockade attenuated the rate to a greater extent in the donor hearts. Although the denervated donor heart is more sensitive to beta blockade than the innervated recipient heart during exercise, no adverse effects were observed. Beta-blocker therapy should be considered for cardiac transplant patients if longer-term studies confirm their safe use in these patients.