Pre-Op Beta-Blockers Not Beneficial for Low-Risk Patients

(HealthDay News) — While patients with three or four heart risk factors should still be given a beta-blocker before surgery, those with no risk for heart disease shouldn’t get the medication as it might lower the odds of a good outcome, according to a report published in JAMA Surgery.

Mark Friedell, MD, chairman of the department of surgery at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, and colleagues collected data on 326,489 patients. Of these patients, 96.2% had non-cardiac surgery and 3.8% had heart surgery.

Among all of the patients, 43.2% were given a beta-blocker.

Of the patients who did not get a beta-blocker, 0.5% of those who had no heart risk factors died within 30 days after surgery, as did 1.4% of those with one or two risk factors and 6.7% of those with three to four risk factors, the researchers found.

For those who did get a beta-blocker, 1% of those with no heart risk factors died, as did 1.7% of those with one or two risk factors and 3.5% of those with three to four risk factors. Conversely, patients with no heart risk factors who were given a beta-blocker were 1.2 times more likely to die during the study period than those not given the drug.

Beta blockers should not be started before surgery on those with no cardiac risk factors,” Friedell told HealthDay.

However, he cautioned that patients already taking a beta-blocker should continue to take it before, during and after surgery.


  1. Friedell ML et al. JAMA Surg. 2015;doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.86.