Association between beta-blocker use and obesity in Hong Kong Chinese elders: a post-hoc analysis.

Hong Kong Academy of Medicine Press
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Hong Kong medical journal = Xianggang yi xue za zhi, 2020, 26, (1), pp. 27-34
Issue Date:
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INTRODUCTION:Studies of Caucasian populations have shown that beta-blockers may exacerbate weight gain, a risk factor for many chronic diseases. Still, beta-blockers are the most prescribed antihypertensives in the Chinese population in Hong Kong. We aimed to explore the association between beta-blocker use, hypertension, and weight status of this population. METHODS:A post-hoc analysis regarding body mass index (BMI) and the use of beta-blockers was performed based on the medication profile of community-dwelling older adults. Participants' BMI, hypertension diagnosis, name, dose, frequency, route of administration of beta-blockers, and other drugs that may alter body weight were recorded. RESULTS:Of 1053 Chinese individuals aged ≥65 years (mean age 76.9±7.2 years, 80% female) from 32 elderly centres in Hong Kong, 18% (185/1053) of them consumed beta-blockers. That group also had a significantly larger proportion of obese individuals (45.9% vs 32.1%, P=0.002). After adjusting for other weight-altering drugs, beta-blockers remained a significant predictor of overweight and obesity (P=0.001). As the hypertensive population had significantly higher BMI than the normotensive population (24.3±3.6 vs 22.9±3.5, P<0.001), a sub-analysis on those with hypertension diagnosis confirmed that only the hypertensive population taking atenolol had a significantly larger population of obese individuals (BMI ≥25) compared with those who took metoprolol (58.9% vs 38.5%, P=0.03) and those who did not take any beta-blockers (58.9% vs 38.4%, P=0.007). CONCLUSIONS:Our findings taken together with other guideline reservations cast doubt on whether beta-blockers, particularly atenolol, should be the major drug prescribed to older adults with hypertension.
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