Preventing Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation After Noncardiac Surgery: A Meta-analysis

Adam Oesterle, Benjamin Weber, Roderick Tung, Niteesh K. Choudhry, Jagmeet P. Singh, Gaurav A. Upadhyay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Although postoperative atrial fibrillation is common after noncardiac surgery, there is a paucity of data regarding prophylaxis. We sought to determine whether pharmacologic prophylaxis reduces the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation after noncardiac surgery. Methods: We performed an electronic search of Ovid MEDLINE, the Cochrane central register of controlled trials database, and SCOPUS from inception to September 7, 2016 and included prospective randomized studies in which patients in sinus rhythm underwent noncardiac surgery and examined the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation as well as secondary safety outcomes. Results: Twenty-one studies including 11,608 patients were included. Types of surgery included vascular surgery (3465 patients), thoracic surgery (2757 patients), general surgery (2292 patients), orthopedic surgery (1756 patients), and other surgery (1338 patients). Beta-blockers (relative risk [RR] 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.11-0.87), amiodarone (RR 0.42; 95% CI, 0.26 to 0.67), and statins (RR 0.43; 95% CI, 0.27 to 0.68) reduced postoperative atrial fibrillation compared with placebo or active controls. Calcium channel blockers (RR 0.55; 95% CI, 0.30 to 1.01), digoxin (RR 1.62; 95% CI, 0.95 to 2.76), and magnesium (RR 0.73; 95% CI, 0.23 to 2.33) had no statistically significant effect on postoperative atrial fibrillation incidence. The incidence of adverse events was comparable across agents, except for increased mortality (RR 1.33; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.37) and bradycardia (RR 2.74; 95% CI, 2.19 to 3.43) in patients receiving beta-blockers. Conclusions: Pharmacologic prophylaxis with amiodarone, beta-blockers, or statins reduces the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation after noncardiac surgery. Amiodarone and statins have a relatively low overall risk of short-term adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-804.e5
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Amiodarone
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Beta-blockers
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Postoperative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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