Patient Care

Hospitalist Reviews on Pre-Operative Beta Blockers, Therapeutic Hypothermia after Cardiac Arrest, Colloids vs. Crystalloids for Hypovolemic Shock


In This Edition

Literature At A Glance

A guide to this month’s studies

  1. Facecards improve familiarity with physician names, not satisfaction
  2. Pre-operative beta-blockers may benefit some cardiac patients
  3. Benefit of therapeutic hypothermia after cardiac arrest unclear
  4. Patients prefer inpatient boarding to ED boarding
  5. Triple rule outs for chest pain
  6. Colloids vs. crystalloids for critically ill patients presenting with hypovolemic shock
  7. Interdisciplinary intervention improves medication compliance, not blood pressure or LDL-C levels
  8. Edoxaban is noninferior to warfarin in Afib patients
  9. Beta blockers lower mortality after acute MI in COPD patients
  10. Low-dose dopamine or low-dose nesiritide in acute heart failure with renal dysfunction

Facecards Improve Familiarity with Physician Names but Not Satisfaction

Clinical question: Do facecards improve patients’ familiarity with physicians and increase satisfaction, trust, and agreement with physicians?

Background: Facecards can improve patients’ knowledge of names and roles of physicians, but their impact on other outcomes is unclear. This pilot trial was designed to assess facecards’ impact on patient satisfaction, trust, or agreement with physicians.

Study design: Cluster, randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Setting: A large teaching hospital in the United States.

Synopsis: Patients (n=138) were randomized to receive either facecards with the name and picture of their hospitalists, as well as a brief description of the hospitalist’s role (n=66), or to receive traditional communication (n=72). There were no significant differences in patient age, sex, or race.

Patients who received a facecard were more likely to correctly identify their hospital physician (89.1% vs. 51.1%; P< 0.01) and were more likely to correctly identify the role of their hospital physician than those in the control group (67.4% vs. 16.3%; P<0.01).

Patients who received a facecard rated satisfaction, trust, and agreement slightly higher compared with those who had not received a card, but the results were not statistically significant (P values 0.27, 0.32, 0.37, respectively.) The authors note that larger studies may be needed to see a difference in these areas.

Bottom line: Facecards improve patients’ knowledge of the names and roles of hospital physicians but have no clear impact on satisfaction with, trust of, or agreement with physicians.

Citation: Simons Y, Caprio T, Furiasse N, Kriss, M, Williams MV, O’Leary KJ. The impact of facecards on patients’ knowledge, satisfaction, trust, and agreement with hospitalist physicians: a pilot study. J Hosp Med. 2014;9(3):137-141.

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: Peri-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 peri-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 peri-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.

Benefit of Therapeutic Hypothermia after Cardiac Arrest Unclear

Clinical question: Does targeted hypothermia (33°C) after cardiac arrest confer benefits compared with targeted temperature management at 36°C?

Background: Therapeutic hypothermia is a current recommendation in resuscitation guidelines after cardiac arrest. Fever develops in many patients after arrest, and it is unclear if the treatment benefit is due to hypothermia or due to the prevention of fever.

Study design: RCT.

Setting: ICUs in Europe and Australia.

Synopsis: The study authors randomized 950 patients who experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest to targeted temperature management at either 36°C or 33°C. The goal of this trial was to prevent fever in both groups during the first 36 hours after cardiac arrest. No statistically significant difference in outcomes between these two approaches was found. In the 33°C group, 54% died or had poor neurologic function, compared with 52% in the 36°C group (risk ratio 1.02; 95% CI 0.88 to 1.16; P=0.78).

Given the wide confidence interval, a trial with either more participants or more events might be able to determine whether a true difference in these management approaches exists.

Bottom line: Therapeutic hypothermia at 33°C after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest did not confer a benefit compared with targeted temperature management at 36°C.

Citation: Nielsen N, Wetterslev J, Cronberg T, et al. Targeted temperature management at 33°C versus 36°C after cardiac arrest. N Engl J Med. 2013;369(23):2197-2206.

Patients Prefer Inpatient Boarding to Emergency Department Boarding

Clinical question: Do patients who experience overcrowding and long waits in the emergency department (ED) prefer boarding within ED hallways or within inpatient medical unit hallways?

Background: Boarding of admitted patients in EDs can be problematic, especially with regard to patient safety and patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction data comparing boarding in the ED versus boarding in an inpatient unit hallway is limited.

Study design: Post-discharge, structured, telephone satisfaction survey.

Setting: Suburban, university-based teaching hospital.

Synopsis: A group of patients who experienced hallway boarding in the ED and then hallway boarding on the inpatient medical unit were identified. They were contacted by phone and asked to take a survey on their experience; 105 of 110 patients identified agreed. Patients were asked to rate their location preference with regard to various aspects of care. A five-point Likert scale consisting of the following answers was used: ED hallway much better, ED hallway better, no preference, inpatient hallway better, and inpatient hallway much better.

The inpatient hallway was the overall preferred location in 85% of respondents. Respondents preferred inpatient boarding with regard to multiple other parameters: rest, 85%; safety, 83%; confidentiality, 82%; treatment, 78%; comfort, 79%; quiet, 84%; staff availability, 84%; and privacy, 84%. For no item was there a preference for boarding in the ED.

Patient demographics in this hospital may differ from other settings and should be considered when applying the results. With Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores and ED throughput being publicly reported, further studies in this area would be valuable.

Bottom line: In a post-discharge telephone survey, patients preferred boarding in inpatient unit hallways rather than boarding in the ED.

Citation: Viccellio P, Zito JA, Sayage V, et al. Patients overwhelmingly prefer inpatient boarding to emergency department boarding. J Emerg Med. 2013;45(6):942-946.

“Triple Rule Outs” for Chest Pain: A Tool to Evaluate the Coronaries but Not Pulmonary Embolism or Aortic Dissection

Clinical question: How does “triple rule out” (TRO) computed tomographic (CT) angiography compare to other imaging modalities in evaluating coronary and other life-threatening etiologies of chest pain, such as pulmonary embolism (PE) and aortic dissection?

Background: TRO CT angiography is a noninvasive technology that evaluates the coronary arteries, thoracic aorta, and pulmonary vasculature simultaneously. Comparison with other tests in the diagnosis of common clinical conditions is useful information for clinical practice.

Study design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Setting: Systematic review of 11 studies (one randomized, 10 observational).

Synopsis: Using an enrolled population of 3,539 patients, TRO CT was compared to other imaging modalities on the basis of image quality, diagnostic accuracy, radiation, and contrast volume. When TRO CT was compared to dedicated CT scans, no significant imaging difference was discovered. TRO CT detected CAD with a sensitivity of 94.3% (95% CI, 89.1% to 97.5%, I2=58.2%) and specificity of 97.4% (95% CI, 96.1% to 98.5%, I2=91.2%).

An insufficient number of patients with PE or aortic dissection were studied to generate diagnostic accuracy for these conditions. TRO CT involved greater radiation exposure and contrast exposure than non-TRO CT.

This study reports high accuracy of TRO CT in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease. Due to the low prevalence of patients with PE or aortic dissection (<1%), the data cannot be extrapolated to these conditions.

Bottom line: Although TRO CT is highly accurate for detecting coronary artery disease, there is insufficient data to recommend its use for the diagnosis of PE or aortic dissection.

Citation: Ayaram D, Bellolio MF, Murad MH, et al. Triple rule-out computed tomographic angiography for chest pain: a diagnostic systematic review and meta-analysis. Acad Emerg Med. 2013;20(9):861-871.

Colloids vs. Crystalloids for Critically Ill Patients Presenting with Hypovolemic Shock

Clinical question: In critically ill patients admitted to the ICU with hypovolemic shock, does the use of colloid for fluid resuscitation, compared with crystalloid, improve mortality?

Background: The current Surviving Sepsis Campaign guidelines recommend crystalloids as the preferred fluid for resuscitation of patients with hypovolemic shock; however, evidence supporting the choice of intravenous colloid vs. crystalloid solutions for management of hypovolemic shock is weak.

Study design: RCT.

Setting: International, multi-center study.

Synopsis: Researchers randomized 2,857 adult patients who were admitted to an ICU and required fluid resuscitation for acute hypovolemia to receive either crystalloids or colloids.

At 28 days, there were 359 deaths (25.4%) in the colloids group vs. 390 deaths (27.0%) in the crystalloids group (P=0.26). At 90 days, there were 434 deaths (30.7%) in the colloids group vs. 493 deaths (34.2%) in the crystalloids group (P=0.03).

Renal replacement therapy was used in 11.0% of the colloids group vs. 12.5% of the crystalloids group (P=0.19). There were more days alive without mechanical ventilation in the colloids group vs. the crystalloids group at seven days (P=0.01) and at 28 days (P=0.01), and there were more days alive without vasopressor therapy in the colloids group vs. the crystalloids group at seven days (P=0.04) and at 28 days (P=0.03).

Major limitations of the study included the use of open-labeled fluids during allocation, so the initial investigators were not blinded to the type of fluid. Moreover, the study compared two therapeutic strategies (colloid vs. crystalloids) rather than two types of molecules.

Bottom line: In ICU patients with hypovolemia requiring resuscitation, the use of colloids vs. crystalloids did not result in a significant difference in 28-day mortality; however, 90-day mortality was lower among patients receiving colloids.

Citation: Annane D, Siami S, Jaber S, et al. Effects of fluid resuscitation with colloids vs crystalloids on mortality of critically ill patients presenting with hypovolemic shock: the CRISTAL randomization trial. JAMA. 2013;310(17):1809-1817.

Interdisciplinary Intervention Improves Medication Compliance, Not Blood Pressure or LDL-C Levels

Clinical question: Can intervention by pharmacists and physicians improve compliance to cardio-protective medications?

Background: Adherence to cardio-protective medications in the year after hospitalization for acute coronary syndrome is poor.

Study design: RCT.

Setting: Four Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers.

Synopsis: The intervention consisted of pharmacist-led medication reconciliation, patient education, pharmacist and PCP +/- cardiologist collaboration, and voice messaging. The outcome measured was the proportion of patients adherent to medication regimens based on a mean proportion of days covered (PDC) >0.80 in the year after discharge, using pharmacy refill data for clopidogrel, beta blockers, statins, and ACEI/ARBs.

Two hundred forty-one patients (95.3%) completed the study. In the intervention group, 89.3% of patients were adherent vs. 73.9% in the usual care group (P=0.003). Mean PDC was higher in the intervention group (0.94 vs. 0.87; P<0.001). A greater proportion of intervention patients were adherent to clopidogrel (86.8% vs. 70.7%; P=0.03), statins (93.2% vs. 71.3%; P<0.001), and ACEI/ARBs (93.1% vs. 81.7%; P=0.03), but not beta blockers (88.1% vs. 84.8%; P=0.59). There were no statistically significant differences in the proportion of patients who achieved blood pressure and LDL-C level goals.

Bottom line: An interdisciplinary, multi-faceted intervention increased medication compliance in the year after discharge for ACS but did not improve blood pressure or LDL-C levels.

Citation: Ho PM, Lambert-Kerzner A, Carey EP, et al. Multifaceted intervention to improve medication adherence and secondary prevention measures after acute coronary syndrome hospital discharge. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):186-193.

Edoxaban Is Noninferior to Warfarin in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation

Clinical question: What is the long-term efficacy and safety of edoxaban compared with warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib)?

Background: Edoxaban is an oral factor Xa inhibitor approved for use in Japan for the prevention of venous thromboembolism after orthopedic surgery. No specific antidote for edoxaban exists, but hemostatic agents can reverse its anticoagulation effect.

Study design: RCT.

Setting: More than 1,300 centers in 46 countries.

Synopsis: Researchers randomized 21,105 patients in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive warfarin (goal INR of 2-3), low-dose edoxaban, or high-dose edoxoban. All patients received two sets of drugs, either active warfarin with placebo edoxaban or active edoxaban (high- or low-dose) and placebo warfarin (with sham INRs drawn), and were followed for a median of 2.8 years.

The annualized rate of stroke or systemic embolic event was 1.5% in the warfarin group, compared with 1.18% in the high-dose edoxaban group (hazard ratio 0.79; P<0.001) and 1.61% in the low-dose edoxaban group (hazard ratio 1.07; P=0.005). Annualized rate of major bleeding was 3.43% with warfarin, 2.75% with high-dose edoxoban (hazard ratio 0.80; P<0.001), and 1.61% with low-dose edoxaban (hazard ratio 0.47; P<0.001).

Both edoxaban regimens were noninferior to warfarin for the prevention of stroke or systemic emboli. The rates of cardiovascular events, bleeding, or death from any cause was lower with both doses of edoxaban as compared with warfarin.

Bottom line: Once-daily edoxaban is noninferior to warfarin for the prevention of stroke or systemic emboli and is associated with lower rates of bleeding and death.

Citation: Giugliano RP, Ruff CT, Braunwald E, et al. Edoxaban versus warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation. New Engl J Med. 2013;369(22):2093-2104.

Beta Blockers Lower Mortality after Acute Myocardial Infarction in COPD Patients

Clinical question: Does the use and timing of beta blockers in COPD patients experiencing a first myocardial infarction (MI) affect survival after the event?

Background: Beta blockers are effective in reducing mortality and reinfarction after an MI; however, concerns regarding the side effects of beta blockers, such as bronchospasm, continue to limit their use in patients with COPD.

Study design: Population-based cohort study.

Setting: The Myocardial Ischemia National Audit Project, linked to the General Practice Research Database, in the United Kingdom.

Synopsis: Researchers identified 1,063 patients over the age of 18 with COPD admitted to the hospital with a first acute MI. Use of beta blockers during hospitalization was associated with increased overall and one-year survival. Initiation of beta blockers during an MI had a mortality-adjusted hazard ratio of 0.50 (95% CI 0.36 to 0.69; P<0.001; median follow-up time=2.9 years).

Patients already on beta blockers prior to the MI had overall survival-adjusted hazard ratio of 0.59 (95% CI 0.44 to 0.79; P<0.001). Both scenarios showed survival benefits compared to COPD patients who were not prescribed beta blockers. Patients given beta blockers with COPD either during the MI hospitalization or before the event were younger and had fewer comorbidities. This may have accounted for some of the survival bias.

Bottom line: The use of beta blockers in patients with COPD started prior to, or at the time of, hospital admission for a first MI is associated with improved survival.

Citation: Quint JK, Herret E, Bhaskaran K, et al. Effect of ß blockers on mortality after myocardial infarction in adults with COPD: population-based cohort study of UK electronic healthcare records. BMJ. 2013;347:f6650.

Neither Low-Dose Dopamine nor Low-Dose Nesiritide Improves Renal Dysfunction in Acute Heart Failure Patients

Clinical question: Does low-dose dopamine or low-dose nesiritide added to diuretic therapy enhance pulmonary volume reduction and preserve renal function in patients with acute heart failure and renal dysfunction, compared to placebo?

Background: Small studies have suggested that low-dose dopamine or low-dose nesiritide may be beneficial in enhancing decongestion and improving renal dysfunction; however, there is ambiguity in overall benefit. Some observational studies suggest that dopamine and nesiritide are associated with higher length of stay, higher costs, and greater mortality.

Study Design: RCT.

Setting: Twenty-six hospital sites in the U.S. and Canada.

Synopsis: Three hundred sixty patients with acute heart failure and renal dysfunction were randomized to receive either nesiritide or dopamine within 24 hours of admission. Within each of these arms, patients were then randomized, in a double-blinded 2:1 fashion, into active treatment versus placebo groups. Treatment groups were compared to the pooled placebo groups.

Two main endpoints were urine output and change in serum cystatin C, from enrollment to 72 hours. Compared with placebo, low-dose dopamine had no significant effect on urine output or serum cystatin C level. Similarly, low-dose nesiritide had no significant effect on 72-hour urine output or serum cystatin C level.

Other studies have shown these drugs to be potentially harmful. Hospitalists should use caution and carefully interpret the relevant evidence when considering their use.

Bottom line: Neither low-dose nesiritide nor low-dose dopamine improved urine output or serum cystatin C levels at 72 hours in patients with acute heart failure and renal dysfunction.

Citation: Chen HH, Anstrom KJ, Givertz MM, et al. Low-dose dopamine or low-dose nesiritide in acute heart failure with renal dysfunction: The ROSE acute heart failure randomized trial. JAMA. 2013;310(23):2533-2543.

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