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Patients given beta blockers after noncardiac surgery are at a higher risk of death or stroke than those given a placebo drug, a study has found.
Research on 8,351 patients in 23 countries saw half of them given a course of beta blockers and the rest given a placebo for 30 days after their surgery.
Patients are often given beta blockers after surgery to combat an expected rise in heart rate, blood pressure and other factors which increase oxygen demands on the heart.
The study, published in The Lancet, found fewer patients who took the beta blockers (244) reached the primary endpoint of cardiovascular death, nonfatal heart attack or nonfatal cardiac arrest than those on the placebo (290).
But there were more deaths in the beta blocker group – 129 to 97 – putting them at 33% more risk of death than the placebo group.
And more beta blocker patients also had a stroke (41) than those taking the placebo (19), which put them at more than double the risk of stroke.
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