Efficacy of β-blocker therapy for secondary prevention for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting surgery

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Purpose of review

The efficacy and safety of β-blockers in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemic heart disease, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure, have been well established for decades. In this article, we review the current opinions on the application of β-blockers for secondary prevention in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery.

Recent findings

As the average age of patients treated surgically for coronary artery disease (CAD) is increasing, it is not uncommon to have candidates for CABG presenting with concomitant atrial fibrillation, heart failure or hypertension, most of which were caused by excessive activation of the adrenergic nervous system. In a recent decade, a number of national quality-improvement efforts using a variety of techniques have been made to increase the use of β-blocker therapy before or following the CABG. Results from recent large observational studies among patients with CAD showed that β-blockers were associated with a lower risk of cardiac events only among those with heart failure or recent myocardial infarction. However, the consistent use of β-blockers could benefit those with or without prior myocardial infarction who underwent CABG and discharged alive.


In real-world clinical practice, β-blockers are effective and safe to control heart rate and symptoms in patients with CAD, especially for those concomitant with left ventricular systolic dysfunction or prior myocardial infarction. Current evidence supports the preoperative use of β-blocker therapy for patients undergoing CABG as a prevention of new-onset atrial fibrillation. It is reasonable to continue β-blockers as chronic therapy in all CABG patients without contraindications after hospital discharge. Further strategies should be developed to understand and improve discharge prescription of β-blockers and long-term patient adherence.

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