Beta-Blocker Encourages Medication Use After Hospital Discharge

Author: Susan Farley

A recent randomized, open-label study showed that 91% of heart failure patients who took the beta-blocker carvedilol (Coreg) before they were discharged maintained their drug regimen after discharge with no increased side effects or length of hospital stay. The study, known as Initiation Management Predischarge: process for Assessment of Carvedilol Therapy in Heart Failure (IMPACT-HF), sought to determine whether starting patients on carvedilol prior to hospital discharge increased the likelihood that they would stay on their medication after leaving the hospital.

Many physicians wait 2 to 4 weeks after hospital discharge before initiating beta-blockers in their heart failure patients. According to the study's authors, this waiting time created the false impression that beta-blockers were not entirely necessary. Primary investigator Mihai Gheorghiade, MD, of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine remarked, "As many as half of patients who need them are not receiving beta-blocker therapy. Our hope is that initiating therapy when patients are still in the hospital will reduce the number of patients who miss this valuable therapy option."