UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: In-hospital outcomes for beta blocker use in cocaine-chest pain

Keywords: cocaine, chest pain, beta blocker (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/1/2014 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 12/11/2014) (Updated: 12/11/2014)
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Should beta blockers be withheld in cocaine-chest pain patients?

A new study retrospectively compared patients who received beta blockers as an inpatient to those who did not. Even though the beta blocker group had higher risk clinical characteristics, there was no difference in the composite primary end point of myocardial infarction, stroke, ventricular arrhythmia, or all-cause mortality within 24 hours of beta blocker use.

Important Limitations

The potentially dangerous interaction between beta blockers and cocaine is likely a much larger issue in patients with very recent cocaine use in the setting of a catecholamine surge. A retrospective analysis likely doesn't include those patients.

Application to Clinical Practice

While this study doesn't answer the question about beta blocker use in acute cocaine toxicity, it does provide some reassurance about the safety of beta blockers given for cocaine-related chest pain.


Fanari Z, et al. Comparison of in-hospital outcomes for beta-blocker use versus non-beta blocker use in patients presenting with cocaine-associated chest pain. Am J Cardiol 2014;113(11):1802-6. [PMID 24742472]

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