Beta blockers after cardiac surgery reduce length of stay and complications

11/09/04

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 (www.theannals.com) 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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