Sudden cardiac death is a major health problem in the industrially developed countries. The risk of sudden cardiac death may be reduced by early detection of coronary heart disease, elimination of the risk factors, treatment of the ischaemia in patients known to have coronary heart disease and suppression of ventricular arrhythmias. Of all the therapeutic measures currently available to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, beta-adrenoceptor-blocking drugs (beta blockers) appear to be the most effective. In this paper their actions are reviewed and evidence for their efficacy is presented.
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