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Beta-blocker management in high-risk patients presenting for non-cardiac surgery: before and after the POISE Trial

Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Royal Melbourne Hospital; Department of Pharmacology, University of Melbourne; Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University; Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Alfred Hospital and Academic Board of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria; National Health and Medical Research Council, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory; Department of Anaesthesia, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales; School of Medicine and Pharmacology, University of Western Australia and Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Perth, Western


The POISE Trial was a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of the effectiveness of perioperative beta-blockade in preventing cardiac events including death in 8351 patients. Our hypothesis was that knowledge of the results of the POISE Trial would either increase or decrease the use of effective perioperative beta-blockade, depending on the result. Patients presenting for non-cardiac surgery and at risk of perioperative cardiac events were recruited in two cohorts before and after the release of the POISE Trial results. Effective perioperative beta-blockade was defined as heart rate <65 beats per minute for at least 80% of the perioperative period in patients prescribed beta-blockers. Effective perioperative beta-blockade was achieved in 22 (11.5%) of 191 patients prescribed perioperative beta-blockade in the first cohort (n=392) and seven (6%) of 118 patients in the second cohort (n=241) (P=0.10). Effective heart rate control was achieved in 29 (9%) patients prescribed perioperative beta-blockers compared with 10 (3%) patients not prescribed perioperative beta-blockers (P=0.001). The rate of implementation of effective beta-blockade was low before POISE and this did not change significantly after publication. Our finding does not provide reliable evidence of a change in practice as a result of the POISE Trial.

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