Patients who undergo major vascular surgery are at increased risk of
perioperative cardiac complications. High-risk patients can be identified
by clinical factors and noninvasive cardiac testing, such as dobutamine stress
echocardiography (DSE); however, such noninvasive imaging techniques carry
significant disadvantages. A recent study found that perioperative β-blocker
therapy reduces complication rates in high-risk individuals.
To examine the relationship of clinical characteristics, DSE results, β-blocker
therapy, and cardiac events in patients undergoing major vascular surgery.
Design and Setting
Cohort study conducted in 1996-1999 in the following 8 centers: Erasmus
Medical Centre and Sint Clara Ziekenhuis, Rotterdam, Twee Steden Ziekenhuis,
Tilburg, Academisch Ziekenhuis Utrecht, Utrecht, and Medisch Centrum Alkmaar,
Alkmaar, the Netherlands; Ziekenhuis Middelheim, Antwerp, Belgium; and San
Gerardo Hospital, Monza, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico,
San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.
A total of 1351 consecutive patients scheduled for major vascular surgery;
DSE was performed in 1097 patients (81%), and 360 (27%) received β-blocker
Main Outcome Measure
Cardiac death or nonfatal myocardial infarction within 30 days after
surgery, compared by clinical characteristics, DSE results, and β-blocker
Forty-five patients (3.3%) had perioperative cardiac death or nonfatal
myocardial infarction. In multivariable analysis, important clinical determinants
of adverse outcome were age 70 years or older; current or prior angina pectoris;
and prior myocardial infarction, heart failure, or cerebrovascular accident.
Eighty-three percent of patients had less than 3 clinical risk factors. Among
this subgroup, patients receiving β-blockers had a lower risk of cardiac
complications (0.8% [2/263]) than those not receiving β-blockers (2.3%
[20/855]), and DSE had minimal additional prognostic value. In patients with
3 or more risk factors (17%), DSE provided additional prognostic information,
for patients without stress-induced ischemia had much lower risk of events
than those with stress-induced ischemia (among those receiving β-blockers,
2.0% [1/50] vs 10.6% [5/47]). Moreover, patients with limited stress-induced
ischemia (1-4 segments) experienced fewer cardiac events (2.8% [1/36]) than
those with more extensive ischemia (≥5 segments, 36% [4/11]).
The additional predictive value of DSE is limited in clinically low-risk
patients receiving β-blockers. In clinical practice, DSE may be avoided
in a large number of patients who can proceed safely for surgery without delay.
In clinically intermediate- and high-risk patients receiving β-blockers,
DSE may help identify those in whom surgery can still be performed and those
in whom cardiac revascularization should be considered.