Beta blockers after cardiac surgery reduce length of stay and complications


CINCINNATI, November 2004 Starting beta-blocker treatment within 24 hours of cardiothoracic surgery provides significant recovery benefits according to new research in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Beta-blockers shortened hospital stays by 2.2 days and reduced atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm, by 17.3%. These important findings were released early at The Annals of Pharmacotherapy's Articles Ahead of Print ( and will appear in the journal's December print issue.

In the article entitled, "Impact of Prophylactic Postoperative Beta-Blockade on Post-Cardiothoracic Surgery Length of Stay and Atrial Fibrillation," Craig I. Coleman PharmD, C. Michael White PharmD, and co-researchers at Connecticut's Hartford Hospital report findings from 1660 patients collected over a 4-year period. In the largest trial of its kind to date, all patients received standard care and half also began beta-blocker treatment shortly after surgery.

In addition to reduced hospital stays and atrial fibrillation, early beta-blocker use was also associated with significant reductions in patient death, the risk of fluid in the lungs, and the need for a balloon pump to assist the heart. Those events were reduced by 59%, 55%, and 53%, respectively. There was no difference in the occurrence of post-surgical stroke or heart attack between the two groups.

In the study a variety of beta-blockers were used at an average dose equivalent to 75 mg/day of metoprolol. Higher doses did not result in additional benefits, nor were outcomes affected by whether patients had taken a beta-blocker prior to surgery. Adverse effects during the study were not mentioned.

A summary written in easy-to-understand language for patients is also available with the article by clicking "For Our Patients" on the website. "For Our Patients" is a service provided by The Annals of Pharmacotherapy to help patients understand the latest research developments and clinical information that relate to medications that have been prescribed for them.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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