The use of perioperative pharmacologic β-blockade in patients at low risk of myocardial ischemic events undergoing noncardiac surgery (NCS) is controversial because of the risk of stroke and hypotension. Published studies have not found a consistent benefit in this cohort.
To determine the effect of perioperative β-blockade on patients undergoing NCS, particularly those with no risk factors.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This is a retrospective observational analysis of patients undergoing surgery in Veterans Affairs hospitals from October 1, 2008, through September 31, 2013.
β-Blocker use was determined if a dose was ordered at any time between 8 hours before surgery and 24 hours postoperatively. Data from the Veterans Affairs electronic database included demographics, diagnosis and procedural codes, medications, perioperative laboratory values, and date of death. A 4-point cardiac risk score was calculated by assigning 1 point each for renal failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, and surgery in a major body cavity. Previously validated linear regression models for all hospitalized acute care medical or surgical patients were used to calculate predicted mortality and then to calculate odds ratios (ORs).
Main Outcomes and Measures
The end point was 30-day surgical mortality.
There were 326 489 patients in this cohort: 314 114 underwent NCS and 12 375 underwent cardiac surgery. β-Blockade lowered the OR for mortality significantly in patients with 3 to 4 cardiac risk factors undergoing NCS (OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.43-0.93). It had no effect on patients with 1 to 2 risk factors. However, β-blockade resulted in a significantly higher chance of death in patients (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.06-1.35) with no risk factors undergoing NCS.
Conclusions and Relevance
In this large series, β-blockade appears to be beneficial perioperatively in patients with high cardiac risk undergoing NCS. However, the use of β-blockers in patients with no cardiac risk factors undergoing NCS increased risk of death in this patient cohort.