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Ann Emerg Med. 2008 Feb;51(2):117-25. Epub 2007 Jun 20.

Beta-blockers are associated with reduced risk of myocardial infarction after cocaine use.

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Department of Medicine, Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.

Erratum in

  • Ann Emerg Med. 2008 Jul;52(1):90.



Beta-blocker use is associated with coronary artery spasm after cocaine administration but also decreases mortality in patients with myocardial infarction or systolic dysfunction. We conduct a retrospective cohort study to analyze the safety of beta-blockers in patients with positive urine toxicology results for cocaine.


The cohort consisted of 363 consecutive telemetry and ICU patients who were admitted to a municipal hospital and had positive urine toxicology results for cocaine during a 5-year period (307 patients). Fifteen patients with uncertain history of beta-blocker use before admission were excluded. The primary outcome measure was myocardial infarction; secondary outcome measure was inhospital mortality. Logistic regression analysis using generalized estimating equations models and propensity scores compared outcomes.


Beta-blockers were given in 60 of 348 admissions. The incidence of myocardial infarction after administration of beta-blocker was significantly lower than without treatment (6.1% versus 26.0%; difference in proportion 19.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI] 10.3% to 30.0%). One of 14 deaths occurred in patients who received beta-blockade (incidence 1.7% versus 4.5% without beta-blockade; difference in proportion 2.8%; 95% CI -1.2% to 6.7%). Multivariate analysis showed that use of beta-blockers significantly reduced the risk of myocardial infarction (odds ratio 0.06; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.61).


In our cohort, administration of beta-blockers was associated with reduction in incidence of myocardial infarction after cocaine use. The benefit of beta-blockers on myocardial function may offset the risk of coronary artery spasm.

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