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Beta-blocker dialyzability and mortality in older patients receiving hemodialysis

Weir MA, Dixon SN, Fleet JL, Roberts MA, Hackam DG, Oliver MJ, Suri RS, Quinn RR, Ozair S, Beyea MM, Kitchlu A, Garg AX. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2015; 26(4):987-96. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


Some β-blockers are efficiently removed from the circulation by hemodialysis ("high dialyzability") whereas others are not ("low dialyzability"). This characteristic may influence the effectiveness of the β-blockers among patients receiving long-term hemodialysis. To determine whether new use of a high-dialyzability β-blocker compared with a low-dialyzability β-blocker associates with a higher rate of mortality in patients older than age 66 years receiving long-term hemodialysis, we conducted a propensity-matched population-based retrospective cohort study using the linked healthcare databases of Ontario, Canada. The high-dialyzability group (n=3294) included patients initiating atenolol, acebutolol, or metoprolol. The low-dialyzability group (n=3294) included patients initiating bisoprolol or propranolol. Initiation of a high- versus low-dialyzability β-blocker was associated with a higher risk of death in the following 180 days (relative risk, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.8; P<0.01). Supporting this finding, we repeated the primary analysis in a cohort of patients not receiving hemodialysis and found no significant association between dialyzability and the risk of death (relative risk, 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.9 to 1.3; P=0.71). β-Blocker exposure was not randomly allocated in this study, so a causal relationship between dialyzability and mortality cannot be determined. However, our findings should raise awareness of this potentially important drug characteristic and prompt further study.

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Keywords: Dialysis Drug therapy

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