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Beta Blockers May Be Useful Following Brain Injury

Retrospective studies find lower risk of mortality in patients with traumatic brain injury exposed to beta blockers

THURSDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The use of beta blockers in patients with traumatic brain injuries may improve survival, according to research published in the October issue of Neurosurgical Focus.

Timothy Y. Tran, of the Albany Medical College in Albany, N.Y., and colleagues discuss the results of their literature review focusing on evidence supporting the use of beta blockers in traumatic brain injury (TBI). These injuries are associated with a catecholamine surge, followed by a hyperadrenergic state. Beta blockers might improve survival through factors such as limiting myocardial oxygen demand or lowering cerebral metabolism, the authors write.

The authors cite a number of studies, including one involving 4,117 trauma patients that found that patients exposed to beta blockers had a lower risk of death; the effect was largest among patients with clinically significant TBI. In another study of 420 patients with TBI, those exposed to beta blockers had fewer deaths than those not exposed to the drugs, despite having more severe injuries, the authors report.

"There is mounting evidence from retrospective cohort studies to suggest that beta-blocker exposure in patients who have sustained a TBI limits the mortality rate. Despite these findings, there are multiple unresolved issues that must be addressed prior to embarking on a multicenter, prospective trial of beta blockers in patients with TBI," Tran and colleagues write."

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