Tofler GH, Morel-Kopp MC, Spinaze M, Dent J, Ward C, McKinley S, Mihailidou AS, Havyatt J, Whitfield V, Bartrop R, Fethney J, Prigerson HG, Buckley T.
Bereavement is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease; however, no reports exist of interventions to reduce risk. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 85 recently bereaved participants, we determined whether β-blocker (metoprolol 25 mg) and aspirin (100 mg) reduce cardiovascular risk markers and anxiety, without adversely affecting bereavement intensity.
Participants were spouses (n = 73) or parents (n = 12) of deceased from 5 hospitals in Sydney, Australia, 55 females, 30 males, aged 66.1 ± 9.4 years. After assessment within 2 weeks of bereavement, subjects were randomized to 6 weeks of daily treatment or placebo, and the effect evaluated using ANCOVA, adjusted for baseline values (primary analysis).
Participants on metoprolol and aspirin had lower levels of home systolic pressure (P = .03), 24-hour average heart rate (P < .001) and anxiety (P = .01) platelet response to arachidonic acid (P < .001) and depression symptoms (P = .046) than placebo with no difference in standard deviation of NN intervals index (SDNNi), von Willebrand Factor antigen, platelet-granulocyte aggregates or bereavement intensity. No significant adverse safety impact was observed.
In early bereavement, low dose metoprolol and aspirin for 6 weeks reduces physiological and psychological surrogate measures of cardiovascular risk. Although further research is needed, results suggest a potential preventive benefit of this approach during heightened cardiovascular risk associated with early bereavement.