14 CLINICAL STUDIES
In a large (1,395 patients randomized), double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, metoprolol tartrate was shown to reduce 3-month mortality by 36% in patients with suspected or definite myocardial infarction.
Patients were randomized and treated as soon as possible after their arrival in the hospital, once their clinical condition had stabilized and their hemodynamic status had been carefully evaluated. Subjects were ineligible if they had hypotension, bradycardia, peripheral signs of shock, and/or more than minimal basal rales as signs of congestive heart failure. Initial treatment consisted of intravenous followed by oral administration of metoprolol tartrate or placebo, given in a coronary care or comparable unit. Oral maintenance therapy with metoprolol tartrate or placebo was then continued for 3 months. After this double-blind period, all patients were given metoprolol tartrate and followed up to 1 year.
The median delay from the onset of symptoms to the initiation of therapy was 8 hours in both the metoprolol tartrate- and placebo-treatment groups. Among patients treated with metoprolol tartrate, there were comparable reductions in 3-month mortality for those treated early (≤8 hours) and those in whom treatment was started later. Significant reductions in the incidence of ventricular fibrillation and in chest pain following initial intravenous therapy were also observed with metoprolol tartrate and were independent of the interval between onset of symptoms and initiation of therapy.
In this study, patients treated with metoprolol received the drug both very early (intravenously) and during a subsequent 3-month period, while placebo patients received no beta-blocker treatment for this period. The study thus was able to show a benefit from the overall metoprolol regimen but cannot separate the benefit of very early intravenous treatment from the benefit of later beta-blocker therapy. Nonetheless, because the overall regimen showed a clear beneficial effect on survival without evidence of an early adverse effect on survival, one acceptable dosage regimen is the precise regimen used in the trial. Because the specific benefit of very early treatment remains to be defined however, it is also reasonable to administer the drug orally to patients at a later time as is recommended for certain other beta-blockers.