CHICAGO – Carotid artery stenting is safer if patients have been on beta-blockers for at least a month beforehand, according to a review of 5,248 stent cases during 2005-2014.
“Compared to non-users, patients on long-term beta-blockers are at 34% less risk of stroke and death after carotid artery stenting [odds ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.46-0.95; P = .025], and this risk reduction is amplified to 65% in patients with postop hypertension [OR, 0.35; 95% CI, 0.17-0.73; P = .005]. Beta-blockers significantly reduce the stroke and death risk ... and should be investigated prospectively for potential use during” carotid artery stenting (CAS), said senior investigator Dr. Mahmoud Malas, director of endovascular surgery and associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.
In the study, long-term beta-blocker use was not associated with post-procedure hypotension in the study. Among patients who developed it, however, beta-blockers were associated with a 48% reduction in the risk of stroke or death at 30 days (OR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.28-0.98; P = .43).
“We think” the benefits are due to “up-regulation of adrenergic receptors. We think also there is better baroreceptor reflex sensitivity.” Long-term use of beta-blockers reduces heart rate variability, as well, and decreases the risk of hyperperfusion fourfold, Dr. Malas said at the meeting hosted by the Society for Vascular Surgery.
The researchers looked into the issue because they are trying to find a way to make CAS safer in the wake of the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy versus Stent Trial (CREST) and others that have shown increased risk compared with carotid endarterectomy.
The subjects were all captured in SVS’s Vascular Quality Initiative database; 2,152 were not on beta-blockers before CAS, 259 were on them for less than 30 days, and 2,837 were on them for more than 30 days. There were no statistical between-group differences in lesion sites, approach (femoral in almost all the cases), or contrast volume used in surgery, a marker of case complexity.
Long-term users had more diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure, whereas short term users were more symptomatic; those and other differences were controlled for on multivariate analysis. Aspirin, clopidogrel, and statin use were similar between the groups. About two-thirds of the subjects were men, and the average age in the study was about 70 years old.
Overall, the 30-day stroke and death rate was 3.4% (minor stroke 1.5%, major 0.9%, and death 1.2%).
Predictors of postoperative stroke or death at 30 days included symptomatic status, age, diabetes, and perioperative hypotension and hypertension. Prior carotid endarterectomy and distal embolic protection were both protective.
The investigators have no disclosures.