Morbidity and mortality for patients with heart failure are alarmingly high. New findings of several studies indicate that β-blockers, which were previously thought to be contraindicated in patients with heart failure, decrease morbidity and mortality and improve symptoms and quality of life for these patients. This article provides a discussion of the beneficial effects of β-blockers, especially carvedilol, in the treatment of heart failure. A teaching guide for patients being treated with carvedilol is also included.

The prevalence of heart failure in the United States is increasing.1 In 1990, heart failure was the primary diagnosis in more than 700 000 hospital discharges, a 4-fold increase since 1971. Heart failure is the primary cause of hospitalization for persons older than 65 years old.2 Hospital admissions for heart failure in the elderly (>65 years old) increased from 55 per...

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