Effect of beta-adrenergic blockers on the peripheral circulation in patients with peripheral vascular disease

W R HiattA S Nies


Beta-Adrenergic blockers have not been widely used in patients with peripheral vascular disease because these drugs have been reported to worsen the symptoms of intermittent claudication. To test this assumption we studied the effects of a beta 1-selective and a nonselective beta-adrenergic blocker on postexercise calf blood flow and symptoms of claudication in 19 patients with mild-to-moderate peripheral vascular disease. Subjects received placebo for 3 weeks, and then were randomized to 120 mg/day propranolol or 150 mg/day metoprolol with the use of a crossover design. Blood flow in the calf was measured by strain-gauge plethysmography at rest and immediately after exercise on a bicycle ergometer at a low and a high workload. The symptoms of claudication were monitored during bicycle exercise and by patient diaries maintained between visits. Maximal exercise heart rate was reduced an equivalent amount by metoprolol (19 beats/min) and propranolol (16 beats/min). Mean arterial pressure was reduced by propranolol at rest and by both drugs with exercise. Calf blood flow was not affected by either drug compared with placebo at rest or at either workload. In addition, the symptoms of claudication were not worsened by either drug. W...Continue Reading


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