Send to

Choose Destination
Anesth Analg. 2008 Apr;106(4):1039-48, table of contents. doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e318163f6a9.

Does tight heart rate control improve beta-blocker efficacy? An updated analysis of the noncardiac surgical randomized trials.

Author information

Department of Anesthesia, Toronto General Hospital and University of Toronto, EN 3-450 200 Elizabeth St., Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C4, Canada.



Recent meta-analyses assessing the efficacy of perioperative beta-blockade trials have failed to show a reduction in postoperative morbidity and mortality. Tight control of heart rate (HR) has been suggested to improve these outcomes. Meta-analyses have not considered the influence of tight HR control on the efficacy of perioperative beta-blockade.


Using previously published search strategies, we identified all randomized trials evaluating perioperative beta-blockers after noncardiac surgery. This search yielded 10 trials with 2176 patients. We used the data from these studies to correlate measures of HR control with major postoperative outcomes, primarily in-hospital myocardial infarction (MI). Odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated, and metaregression was performed correlating measures of HR control with MI.


The combined results of all studies did not show a significant cardioprotective effect of beta-blockers, with considerable heterogeneity among the studies (OR = 0.76; 95% CI = 0.4-1.4; P = 0.38 heterogeneity: I(2) = 34%). However, grouping the trials on the basis of maximal HR showed that trials where the estimated maximal HR was <100 bpm were associated with cardioprotection (OR = 0.23; 95% CI = 0.08-0.65; P = 0.005) whereas trials where the estimated maximal HR was >100 bpm did not demonstrate cardioprotection (OR = 1.17; 95% CI = 0.79-1.80; P = 0.43) with no heterogeneity. Moreover, metaregression of the HR response to beta-blockade against the log OR of postoperative MI demonstrated a linear association between the effect of beta-blockade on the mean, maximal, and variation in HR and the OR of an MI (r(2) = 0.63; P < 0.001) where a larger effect of beta-blockers on HR was associated with a decreased incidence of postoperative MI. Across all studies, beta-blockade resulted in a reduction in postoperative HR (weighted mean difference: 8.6 bpm; 95% CI = -9.6 to -7.6; I(2) = 85.3%) with considerable heterogeneity. This large heterogeneity in HR response to beta-blockade was found to be related, in part, to the type of beta-blocker, specifically, metoprolol, and the concomitant use of calcium channel blockers. Calcium channel blocker use and beta-blockers other than metoprolol resulted in more effective control of HR. There was wide variability in the HR response to beta-blockade. Twenty-five percent of patients receiving beta-blockers had episodes when the HRs were more than 100 bpm, although 15% of placebo patients also had bradycardia, which would have required a dose reduction had they been administered beta-blockers. Finally, this analysis found that perioperative beta-blockade was associated with an increased incidence of bradycardia (OR = 3.49; 95% CI = 2.4-5.9) and congestive heart failure (OR = 1.68; 95% CI = 1.00-2.8).


The trials that achieve the most effective control of HR are associated with a reduced incidence of postoperative MI, suggesting that effective control of HR is important for achieving cardioprotection. Second, this analysis demonstrates that administration of beta-blockers does not reliably decrease HRs in all patients, and may be associated with increased side effects. Judicious use of combination therapy with other drugs may be necessary to achieve effective postoperative control of HR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center