Beta Blockers Best After Cardiac Surgery

Study finds they prevent irregular heartbeat after procedures

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MONDAY, Aug. 8, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Beta blockers are the top choice for control and prevention of irregular heartbeat, according to the first evidence-based clinical guidelines for postoperative atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery.

The guidelines, released Aug. 8 by the American College of Chest Physicians, appear in the August issue of CHEST. Atrial fibrillation (AF), or irregular heartbeat, is one of the most frequent complications of cardiac surgery.

"Over one third of patients suffer from AF after cardiac surgery, which is associated with a higher risk of postoperative morbidity, increased hospital stay, and increased hospital cost," guidelines co-chairman Peter McKeown, of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

"Although previous guidelines have focused on the management of chronic AF, our guidelines are the first to address AF associated with cardiac surgery," McKeown said.

The new guidelines offer recommendations on cardiac pacing, anticoagulation therapy, pharmaceutical prophylaxis, intraoperative interventions, and the use of drugs to control ventricular rate and rhythm.

More information

UpToDate has more about atrial fibrillation.

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Aug. 8, 2005

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