Beta blockers may treat bronchitis, research claims

Beta blocker drugs, usually prescribed for heart diseases, may also help sufferers of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, according to new research led by Dundee University.

Researchers in the Asthma and Allergy Group at Dundee, NHS Tayside and St Andrews University, found the drugs reduced mortality rates and hospital admissions for patients already taking regular inhaler therapies.

Professor Brian Lipworth, who heads the group, said: "The clear benefits of beta blocker use in cardiovascular disease are well known but their use is generally avoided in patients who also have COPD, because of concerns they might cause adverse effects with breathing.

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"But our research shows there are no adverse effects and in fact, when used in addition to regular treatments like inhalers, the beta blockers have a very positive effect."

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at the records of almost 6,000 patients diagnosed with COPD.