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Scientific Review and Clinical Applications
March 20, 2002

β-Blockers and Reduction of Cardiac Events in Noncardiac Surgery: Clinical Applications

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

JAMA. 2002;287(11):1445-1447. doi:10.1001/jama.287.11.1445

Recent studies suggest that β-blockers administered perioperatively may reduce the risk of adverse cardiac events and mortality in patients who have cardiac risk factors and undergo major noncardiac surgery. The objective of this article is to provide practicing physicians with examples of perioperative β-blocker use in practice by using several hypothetical cases. Although current evidence describing the effectiveness of perioperative β-blockade may not address all possible clinical situations, it is possible to formulate an evidence-based approach that will maximize benefit to patients. We describe how information from several sources can be used to guide management of patients with limited exercise tolerance, those at highest risk for perioperative cardiac events, patients who are taking β-blockers long-term, and those with relative contraindications to β-blockade. Even though fine points of their use remain to be elucidated, perioperative β-blocker use is important and can be easily applied in practice by any physician involved with the care of patients perioperatively.