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Original research article
Relationships among achieved heart rate, β-blocker dose and long-term outcomes in patients with heart failure with atrial fibrillation
  1. Robert J H Miller1,
  2. Jonathan G Howlett1,
  3. Michael H Chiu1,
  4. Danielle A Southern2,
  5. Merril Knudtson1 and
  6. Stephen B Wilton1,2
  1. 1Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2Department of Community Health Sciences, Calgary Institute for Population and Public Health, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert JH Miller; robert.miller{at}


Objective Higher β-blocker dose and lower heart rate are associated with decreased mortality in patients with systolic heart failure (HF) and sinus rhythm. However, in the 30% of patients with HF with atrial fibrillation (AF), whether β-blocker dose or heart rate predict mortality is less clear. We assessed the association between β-blocker dose, heart rate and all-cause mortality in patients with HF and AF.

Methods We performed a retrospective cohort study in 935 patients (60% men, mean age 74, 44.7% with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF)) discharged with concurrent diagnoses of HF and AF. We used Cox models to test independent associations between higher versus lower predischarge heart rate (dichotomised at 70/min) and higher versus lower β-blocker dose (dichotomised at 50% of the evidence-based target), with the primary composite end point of mortality or cardiovascular rehospitalisation over a median of 2.9 years. All analyses were stratified by the presence of left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVEF≤40%).

Results After adjustment for covariates, neither β-blocker dose nor predischarge heart rate was associated with the primary composite end point. However, tachycardia at admission (heart rate >120/min) was associated with a reduced risk of the composite outcome in patients with both reduced LVEF (adjusted HR 0.67, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.88, p<0.01) and preserved LVEF (adjusted HR 0.79, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.98, p=0.04).

Conclusions We found no associations between predischarge heart rate or β-blocker dosage and clinical outcomes in patients with recent hospitalisations for HF and AF.

Statistics from

  • Received August 15, 2016.
  • Revision received November 26, 2016.
  • Accepted November 28, 2016.
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  • Competing interests JGH has received speaking or consulting fees from Astrazeneca, Bayer, Novartis, Medtronic, Pfizer, Merck, Servier, CVRx, BMS, and Boehringer-Ingelheim as well as research grants from Astrazeneca, Bayer, Novartis, Medtronic, Pfizer, Merck and Servier. SBW has received consulting fees from Beohringer-Ingelheim and Arca-Biopharma.

  • Ethics approval University of Calgary Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The authors have detailed clinical information on all included patients. These data would be available to authors with original research proposals after appropriate ethics consultation is complete.

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