Non-selective beta-blockers are not associated with serious infections in veterans with cirrhosis

Authors

  • J. S. Bajaj,

    Corresponding author
    • Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, VA, USA
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  • S. M. Ratliff,

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, VA, USA
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  • D. M Heuman,

    1. Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, VA, USA
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  • K. L. Lapane

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, VA, USA
    2. Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA
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Correspondence to:

Dr J. S Bajaj, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 1201 Broad Rock Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23249, USA.

E-mail: jsbajaj@vcu.edu

Summary

Background

Studies evaluating outcomes associated with non-selective beta-blockers (NSBB) in cirrhosis have yielded mixed results. A major cause of death in decompensated cirrhosis is infection.

Aim

To determine the effect of NSBB use on serious infections (requiring hospitalisation) in compensated and decompensated cirrhosis.

Methods

Using data from the US Veterans Health Administration from 2001–2009, we identified two cohorts: compensated cirrhotics (n = 12 656) and decompensated cirrhotics (n = 4834). From each cohort, we identified new NSBB users and propensity-matched them 1:1 to non-users (n = 1836 each in compensated users/non-users and n = 1462 each in decompensated users/non-users). They were followed up for serious infections (median time: 3.1 years), death and transplant. We estimated adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) from Cox regression models.

Results

Death or transplantation occurred in 0.7% compensated and 2.7% of decompensated patients. Among decompensated cirrhotics, death (P = 0.0061) and transplantation (P = 0.0086) occurred earlier in NSBB users compared with non-users. Serious infections were observed in 4.8% of compensated cirrhotics and in 13.7% of decompensated cirrhotics. There was no difference in the rate of serious infection development in new NSBB users compared with non-users in the compensated (adjusted HR: 0.90, CI: 0.59–1.36) or in the decompensated group (adjusted HR: 1.10, CI: 0.96–1.25).

Conclusion

The use of non-selective beta-blockers in U.S. veterans is not associated with an increased rate of serious infections in compensated or decompensated cirrhosis.

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