Preoperative β-blockers do not improve cardiac outcomes after major elective vascular surgery and may be harmful.

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Journal Title

Journal of vascular surgery

MeSH Headings

Adrenergic beta-Antagonists, Databases, Factual, Drug Administration Schedule, Elective Surgical Procedures, Heart Diseases, Humans, Logistic Models, Odds Ratio, Propensity Score, Retrospective Studies, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, Time Factors, Treatment Outcome, United States, Vascular Surgical Procedures


OBJECTIVE: Routine initiation β-blocker medications before vascular surgery is controversial due to conflicting data. The purpose of this analysis was to determine whether prophylactic use of β-blockers before major elective vascular surgery decreased postoperative cardiac events or mortality.

METHODS: The Society for Vascular Surgery Vascular Quality Initiative (SVS-VQI) data set was used to perform a retrospective cohort analysis of infrainguinal lower extremity bypass (LEB), aortofemoral bypass (AFB), and open abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair patients. Chronic (>30 days preoperatively) β-blocker patients were excluded, and comparisons were made between preoperative (0-30 day) and no β-blocker groups. Patients were risk stratified using a novel prediction tool derived specifically from the SVS-VQI data set. Propensity-matched pairs and interprocedural specific risk stratification comparisons were performed. End points included in-hospital major adverse cardiac events (MACEs), including myocardial infarction (MI; defined as new ST or T wave electrocardiographic changes, troponin elevation, or documentation by echocardiogram or other imaging modality), dysrhythmia, and congestive heart failure, and 30-day mortality.

RESULTS: The study analyzed 13,291 patients (LEB, 68% [n = 9047]; AFB, 11% [n = 1474]; and open AAA, 21% [n = 2770]); of these, 67.7% (n = 8999) were receiving β-blockers at time of their index procedure. Specifically, 13.2% (n = 1753) were identified to have been started on a preoperative β-blocker, 54.5% (n = 7426) were on chronic β-blockers, and 32.3% (n = 4286) were on no preoperative β-blockers. Among the three procedures, patients had significant demographic and comorbidity differences and thus were not combined. A 1:1 propensity-matched pairs analysis (1459 pairs) revealed higher rates of postoperative MI with preoperative β-blockers (preoperative β-blocker relative risk, 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-2.68; P = .05 vs no β-blocker), with no difference in dysrhythmia, congestive heart failure, or 30-day mortality. When stratified into low-risk, medium-risk, and high-risk groups within each procedure, all groups of preoperative β-blocker patients had no difference or higher rates of MACEs and 30-day mortality, with the exception of high-risk open AAA patients, who had a lower rate of MI (odds ratio, 0.35; 95% confidence interval, 011-0.87; P = .04).

CONCLUSIONS: Exclusive of high-risk open AAA patients, preoperative β-blockers did not decrease rates of MACEs or mortality after LEB, AFB, or open AAA. Importantly, exposure to prophylactic preoperative β-blockers increased the rates of some adverse events in several subgroups. Given these data, the SVS-VQI cannot support routine initiation of preoperative β-blockers before major elective vascular surgery in most patients.



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