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Beta-blockers and psychic stress: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of bopindolol vs lorazepam and butalbital in surgical patients.


One hundred patients scheduled for surgery participated in a randomized double-blind trial designed to evaluate the effects of acute treatment with two doses of bopindolol (1 mg:BP1;2 mg:BP2) in comparison with those of 2.5 mg lorazepam (LR), 75 mg butalbital (BT) and placebo (PL). Anxiety was evaluated by the STAI X1 questionnaire on the day before surgery, in the late afternoon (time 0: basal) and in the evening (time 1). At the same times patients were requested to play a game of manual skill called "Go Down". The next day, in the morning (time 2), the patients were given the same questionnaire and were asked a series of questions about their sleep and awakening. Mean anxiety scores were significantly increased over basal values at both time 1 and time 2 in the PL and LR groups and at time 2 in the BT group, but neither in the BP1 nor in the BP2 group. The time needed to perform the "Go Down" test was significantly shorter than the basal value for both BP groups and significantly longer for the BT group, while nonsignificant modifications occurred in the PL and LR groups. Positive effects were obtained in patients treated with BP, at both doses, on ease of "falling asleep", number of "night awakenings" and "reawakening mood" while LR and BT were mostly ineffective, except for BT on ease of "falling asleep". It was concluded that a beta-blocker such as bopindolol may be more effective than a benzodiazepine or a barbiturate for the prevention of anxiety symptoms induced by a clearly defined stress situation, such as awaiting a surgical operation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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