Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Improvement in prognosis of myocardial infarction by long-term beta-adrenoreceptor blockade using practolol. A multicentre international study.

Br Med J 1975; 3 doi: (Published 27 September 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;3:735


In a large-scale double-blind controlled trial of practolol (200 mg twice daily) in the long-term prophylactic treatment of 3038 patients recovering from acute myocardial infarction treatment was started one to four weeks after the acute attack. The trial was originally planned to include 4000 patients treated for at least a year but had to be terminated prematurely because of the serious oculocutaneous and peritoneal reactions reported elsewhere. Nevertheless, important findings, probably applicable to other beta-adrenoreceptor antagonists, have emerged in relation to mortality and morbidity. (1) The practolol-treated group showed a significant reduction in overall mortality and in sudden deaths; (2) there was a highly significant reduction in "all cardiac events"; (3) the reduction in overall mortality was virtually confined to patients whose original pre-entry infarcts were sited anteriorly; (4) the protective effect of practolol was most evident in those patients with pre-entry anterior infarcts whose blood pressures at entry were below the mean for the trial as a whole; (5) there were highly significant group differences in favour of the drug relating to the incidence of angina pectoris and cardiac arrhythmias, and to the numbers of patients who had to be withdrawn from the trial because of these conditions; (6) significantly more patients were withdrawn from the treatment group because of suspected adverse reactions. It is concluded that practolol used in the long-term treatment of patients who have survived the acute phase of myocardial infarction reduces the death rate when the original infarct is sited anteriorly. It is postulated that the favourable results of the trial were due to beta-adrenoreceptor blockade rather than to some other property specific to practolol itself. Since practolol produces severe side effects in long-term use it is recommended that an alternative beta-adrenoreceptor blocking agent should be used.