An Echocardiographic Analysis of the Long-Term Effects of Carvedilol on Left Ventricular Remodeling, Systolic Performance, and Ventricular Filling Patterns in Dilated Cardiomyopathy


  • This study was supported in part by grants from SmithKlineBeecham Pharmaceuticals.

Address for correspondence and reprint requests: Peter S. Rahko, M.D., Cardiovascular Medicine Section, G7/343 CSC, 600 Highland Ave., Madison, WI 53792-3248. Fax: (608) 263-0405; E-mail:


Background: The long-term clinical benefit of beta blockade is well recognized, but data quantifying long-term effects of beta blockade on remodeling of the left ventricle (LV) is limited. Methods: This consecutive series evaluates the long-term response of the LV to the addition of carvedilol to conventional therapy for dilated cardiomyopathy. There were 33 patients who had a LV ejection fraction <45%, LV enlargement and symptomatic heart failure. Quantitative Doppler echocardiography was performed at baseline 6, 12, 24, and 36 months after initiation of carvedilol to evaluate LV ejection fraction, LV volume, wall stress, mass, regional function, and diastolic performance. Results: Compared to baseline there was a significant and sustained reduction in end-systolic volume and end-systolic wall stress with a corresponding improvement in LV ejection fraction. The LV mass did not decline but relative wall thickness increased toward normal. An analysis of regional wall motion responses showed an improvement in all areas, particularly the apical, septal, and lateral walls that was significantly more frequent in patients with a nonischemic etiology. Filling patterns of the LV remained abnormal throughout the study but changed with therapy suggesting a decline in filling pressures. These changes were sustained for 3 years. Conclusion: (1) The addition of carvedilol to conventional therapy for a dilated cardiomyopathy significantly improves LV ejection fraction and reduces LV end-systolic volume and wall stress for at least 3 years, (2) the response to 6 months of treatment predicts the long-term response, (3) the typical response is partial improvement of the LV, complete return to normal size, and function is uncommon, and (4) abnormalities of LV filling persist in virtually all patients throughout the course of treatment.