A Comparative Study of Carvedilol Versus Metoprolol Initiation and 1-Year Mortality Among Individuals Receiving Maintenance Hemodialysis

Am J Kidney Dis. 2018 Sep;72(3):337-348. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2018.02.350. Epub 2018 Apr 10.


Background: Carvedilol and metoprolol are the β-blockers most commonly prescribed to US hemodialysis patients, accounting for ∼80% of β-blocker prescriptions. Despite well-established pharmacologic and pharmacokinetic differences between the 2 medications, little is known about their relative safety and efficacy in the hemodialysis population.

Study design: A retrospective cohort study using a new-user design.

Setting & participants: Medicare-enrolled hemodialysis patients treated at a large US dialysis organization who initiated carvedilol or metoprolol therapy from January 1, 2007, through December 30, 2012.

Predictor: Carvedilol versus metoprolol initiation.

Outcomes: All-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and intradialytic hypotension (systolic blood pressure decrease ≥ 20mmHg during hemodialysis plus intradialytic saline solution administration) during a 1-year follow-up period.

Measurements: Survival models were used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs in mortality analyses. Poisson regression was used to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% CIs in intradialytic hypotension analyses. Inverse probability of treatment weighting was used to adjust for several demographic, clinical, laboratory, and dialysis treatment covariates in all analyses.

Results: 27,064 individuals receiving maintenance hemodialysis were included: 9,558 (35.3%) carvedilol initiators and 17,506 (64.7%) metoprolol initiators. Carvedilol (vs metoprolol) initiation was associated with greater all-cause (adjusted HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.02-1.16) and cardiovascular mortality (adjusted HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.08-1.29). In subgroup analyses, similar associations were observed among patients with hypertension, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and a recent myocardial infarction, the main cardiovascular indications for β-blocker therapy. During follow-up, carvedilol (vs metoprolol) initiators had a higher rate of intradialytic hypotension (adjusted IRR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.09-1.11).

Limitations: Residual confounding may exist.

Conclusions: Relative to metoprolol initiation, carvedilol initiation was associated with higher 1-year all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. One potential mechanism for these findings may be the increased occurrence of intradialytic hypotension after carvedilol (vs metoprolol) initiation.

Keywords: Beta-blocker; blood pressure; cardiovascular; carvedilol; dialyzability; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); hemodialysis; hypotension; intradialytic hypotension (IDH); metoprolol; mortality; pharmacoepidemiology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-1 Receptor Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Adrenergic beta-1 Receptor Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Aged
  • Carvedilol / adverse effects
  • Carvedilol / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / adverse effects
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects
  • Renal Dialysis / mortality*
  • Renal Dialysis / trends
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / mortality*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors


  • Adrenergic beta-1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Carvedilol
  • Metoprolol