Perioperative beta-blocker therapy and heart rate control during noncardiac surgery

Am J Surg. 2007 Aug;194(2):189-91. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2006.08.090.


Background: Perioperative treatment with beta-blockade is a widely advocated practice. We assessed the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative control of heart rate (HR) in patients who received beta-blockade as recommended during preoperative medicine clearance.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients who underwent noncardiac surgery from 2002 to 2004 at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas, with recommendations of beta-blockade as part of their risk stratification. Demographic data and comorbid risk factors were collected on patients undergoing general anesthesia. All data were presented as mean +/- SEM. The chi-square test and analysis of variance were used for statistical analysis.

Results: A total of 130 patients referred for preoperative medicine clearance, who were risk-stratified based on comorbid conditions and risk of procedure, had beta-blockade started before elective surgery. Sixty percent (78 of 130) of the patients underwent high-/intermediate-risk surgery. The mean preoperative HR was 74 +/- 1 beat per minute (bpm). The mean intraoperative HR was 69 +/- 1 bpm. The mean postoperative HR was 84 +/- 1 bpm. There was a significant difference in the preoperative and intraoperative HR when compared with the postoperative HR (P < .003). There were no deaths at 30 days postoperatively. Perioperative cardiac morbidity occurred in 5.4% (7 of 130) of all patients (high patient risk, 71%; low patient risk, 29%; P < .05), and did not correlate with procedure risk.

Conclusions: Beta-blockade is achieved sufficiently in the preoperative and intraoperative settings. However, attention to postoperative HR may be warranted to maintain the benefits of beta-blockade.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Aged
  • Anesthesia, General
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perioperative Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists