UCL School of Pharmacy


New study finds that beta-blockers increase cardiovascular risk for sleep apnoea patients

9 August 2023

A new study led by Dr Kenneth Man warns of potential health risks for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients who use beta-blockers, indicating an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and possibly higher mortality rates.

A person sleeping. They are covered by a white linen duvet.

The study, conducted with data from over 37,000 patients from 2000 to 2021, aimed to investigate the real-world impact of beta-blocker use on OSA patients' health outcomes. It utilised the UK primary care data from the IMRD-UK database, revealing important findings on beta-blocker effects for the first time.

"The five-year risks of mortality and CVD outcomes were higher among beta-blocker users compared to non-users," the study finds. Specifically, the risks were 4.9% and 13.0% respectively for beta-blocker users, against 4.0% and 9.4% in non-users. There was also a noted risk difference and ratio for both mortality and CVD outcomes between the two groups.

These findings suggest that beta-blocker use may pose an elevated risk to patients suffering from OSA, a condition that affects millions worldwide. Dr Kenneth Man (UCL School of Pharmacy) commented on the surprising findings. "Our study underscores the urgent need for further investigation into the relationship between beta-blockers and health outcomes in OSA patients," they said. "Our hope is that this information will help medical professionals make more informed decisions when treating patients with OSA."

This extensive study is one of the few exploring the real-world implications of medical treatment in OSA patients. It emphasises the importance of careful and continued monitoring of these patients and encourages further investigation in this field.

Further studies are anticipated to confirm these findings and delve deeper into understanding the association between beta-blocker usage and patient outcomes. Until such studies are conducted, the medical community is urged to consider the potential risks highlighted by this research when treating patients with OSA.

Further information:


Twitter: @KennethKCMan  

Image credit:

Kinga Howard on Unsplash