Beta-blockers are standard treatment for heart attack survivors, and have been for more than 25 years-but they don't help the patient live longer.
During the first 30 days after a heart attack, the drugs can prevent angina and a second attack, but they also increase the risk of heart failure and cardiogenic shock (when the heart is unable to pump sufficient blood around the body).
But they don't help the patient live any longer, say researchers from New York University's Langone Medical Centre. They had looked at 60 trials that had involved 102,003 patients who had suffered a heart attack.
Although there is some merit in giving the drugs in the first 30 days after the attack, there is far more to be gained by using one of the newer therapies, such as statins, aspirin and reperfusion (clot-busting drugs or stents), they say.
(Source: American Journal of Medicine, 2014; 127 (10): 939)