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Ann Intern Med. 1999 Nov 2;131(9):648-54.

Early beta-blocker therapy for acute myocardial infarction in elderly patients.

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  • 1Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale-New Haven Hospital, Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Connecticut 06520-8025, USA.



Despite the evidence supporting the importance of early beta-blocker therapy, this intervention has received little attention as an indicator of quality of care.


To determine how often beta-blockers are administered as early treatment of acute myocardial infarction in patients 65 years of age or older, to identify predictors of the decision to use beta-blockers, and to evaluate the association between the early use of beta-blockers and in-hospital mortality.


Observational study.


Nongovernment, acute care hospitals in the United States.


Medicare beneficiaries who were 65 years of age or older, were hospitalized with an acute myocardial infarction in 1994 and 1995, and did not have a contraindication to beta-blocker therapy.


Medical chart review to obtain information about the use of beta-blockers, contraindications to these drugs, patient demographics, and clinical factors.


Of the 58 165 patients (from a total of 4414 hospitals), 28 256 (49%) received early beta-blocker therapy. Patients with the highest risk for in-hospital death were the least likely to receive therapy. Patients who received beta-blockers had a lower in-hospital mortality rate than patients who did not receive beta-blockers (odds ratio, 0.81 [95% CI, 0.75 to 0.87]), even after adjustment for baseline differences in demographic, clinical, and treatment characteristics between the two groups.


Early beta-blocker therapy was not used for 51% of elderly patients who were hospitalized with an acute myocardial infarction and did not have a contraindication to this therapy. Increasing the early use of beta-blockers for these patients would provide an excellent opportunity to improve their care and outcomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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