Background: Cardiovascular (CVS) comorbidities are common in COPD and contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality, especially following acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD). Beta-blockers (BBs) are safe and effective in COPD patients, with demonstrated survival benefit following myocardial infarction. We sought to determine if BBs are under-prescribed in patients hospitalized with AECOPD. We also sought to determine inpatient rates of CVS and cerebrovascular complications, and their impact on patient outcomes.

Methods: Retrospective hospital data was collected over a 12-month period. The medical records of all patients 40 years of age coded with a diagnosis of AECOPD were analyzed. Prevalent use and incident initiation of BBs were assessed. Comorbidities including indications and contraindications for BB use were analyzed.

Results: Of the 366 eligible patients, 156 patients (42.6%) had at least one indication for BB use – of these patients, only 53 (34.0%) were on BB therapy and 61 (39.1%) were not on BB therapy but had no listed contraindication. Prevalent use of BBs at the time of admission in all 366 patients was 19.7%, compared with 45.6%, 39.6% and 45.9% use of anti-platelets, statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor/angiotensin II receptor blockers, respectively. CVS and cerebrovascular complications were common in this population (57 patients, 16%) and were associated with longer length of stay (p,0.01) and greater inpatient mortality (p=0.02).

Conclusions: BBs are under-prescribed in COPD patients despite clear indication(s) for their use. Further work is required to explore barriers to BB prescribing in COPD patients.


COPD exacerbations, beta-blockers, cardiovascular, comorbidity

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