Pre-Operative Beta Blockers May Benefit Some Cardiac Patients


Clinical question: In patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD) undergoing non-cardiac surgery, do pre-operative beta blockers reduce post-operative major cardiovascular events (MACE) or mortality at 30 days?

Background: Pre-operative beta blocker use has become more restricted, as evidence about which patients derive benefit has become clearer. Opinions and practice vary regarding whether all patients with IHD, or only certain populations within this group, benefit from pre-operative beta blockers.

Study design: Retrospective, national registry-based cohort study.

Setting: Denmark, 2004-2009.

Synopsis: No benefit was found for the overall cohort of 28,263 patients. Patients with IHD and heart failure (n=7990) had lower risk of MACE (HR=0.75, 95% CI, 0.70-0.87) and mortality (HR=0.80, 95% CI, 0.70-0.92). Patients with IHD and myocardial infarction within two years (n=1664) had lower risk of MACE (HR=0.54, 95% CI, 0.37-0.78) but not mortality. Beta blocker dose and compliance were unknown. Whether patients had symptoms or inducible ischemia was not clear. This study supports the concept that higher-risk patients benefit more from pre-operative beta blockers, but it is not high-grade evidence.

Bottom line: Not all patients with IHD benefit from pre-operative beta blockers; those with concomitant heart failure or recent MI have a lower risk of MACE and/or mortality at 30 days with beta blockers.

Citation: Andersson C, Merie C, Jorgensen M, et al. Association of ß-blocker therapy with risks of adverse cardiovascular events and deaths in patients with ischemic heart disease undergoing non-cardiac surgery: A Danish nationwide cohort study JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(3):336-344.

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