1. The physiological effects of the acute administration of a β-adrenoceptor antagonist in patients with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy were assessed by performing post-exercise Doppler-echocardiography study. Eleven patients and six control subjects were studied. According to a double-blind randomized protocol, 5 mg of metoprolol or placebo was administered before cycloergometer exercise.

2. In patients, after metopolol, a significant decrease in heart rate and systolic blood pressure, as well as in peak aortic acceleration and cardiac output, was observed 2 min after exercise. Left ventricular end-diastolic diameter did not change from baseline values either after placebo or metoprolol. In normal subjects, as compared with placebo, a decrease in heart rate and peak aortic acceleration was observed after metoprolol, whereas systolic blood pressure did not change. A similar increase in cardiac output occurred after metoprolol, as compared with placebo, associated with an increase in left ventricular end-diastolic diameter and stroke volume.

3. Post-exercise Doppler echocardiography is a means of assessing haemodynamic changes occurring during exercise in patients with congestive heart failure. Although acute metoprolol administration does not provide beneficial haemodynamic effects, a decrease in the energy requirements of the heart and a faster recovery after exercise may participate in the long-term beneficial action of β-adrenoceptor antagonists.

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