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Taking beta-blockers before surgery can increase heart attack risk by 400 percent

10 years ago

1679  0
Posted on Apr 10, 2009, 12 p.m. By gary clark

A study conducted by researchers from the Veterans Affairs Boston Health Care System finds that surgical patients are at four times greater risk of suffering a heart attack and death when given beta-blockers around the time of surgery.

With surgical procedures known to put patients at an increased risk of heart problems, many doctors have made it standard practice to give their patients beta-blockers before surgery - even when the patient does not have pre-existing blood pressure issues. However, a Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Health Care System study has found that surgical patients receiving the blood pressure medication around the time of surgery are four times more likely to suffer heart attacks and even death.

Their findings come from an extensive review of the medical records of 1,200 patients from a VA hospital in Houston, who had undergone a wide range of surgeries, from hernias to vascular procedures. The researchers made a note of each patient's heart rate before and after surgery, as well as categorized their risk of heart problems as low, intermediate or high. Of the 1,200 patients, 238 had either been given beta-blockers before surgery or they were already taking the drug, while 408 patients of similar age and health had not been given the drug. They found that the first group was 2.94 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or death within 30 days of their surgery, as compared to 0.74 percent for the second group. Of the patients who died, none had been placed in the high-risk group at the start of the study. This led researchers to believe that "beta-blockers might offer some protection to those who already have heart problems while harming those who do not." The study was published in the journal Archives of Surgery.

News Release: Beta-blocker drugs cause 400 percent increase in heart attacks  April 3, 2009

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