BACKGROUND: Carvedilol and metoprolol are the β-blockers most commonly prescribed to US hemodialysis patients, accounting for ∼80% of β-blocker prescriptions. Despite well-established pharmacologic and pharmacokinetic differences between the 2 medications, little is known about their relative safety and efficacy in the hemodialysis population.
STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study using a new-user design.
SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: Medicare-enrolled hemodialysis patients treated at a large US dialysis organization who initiated carvedilol or metoprolol therapy from January 1, 2007, through December 30, 2012.
PREDICTOR: Carvedilol versus metoprolol initiation.
OUTCOMES: All-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and intradialytic hypotension (systolic blood pressure decrease ≥ 20mmHg during hemodialysis plus intradialytic saline solution administration) during a 1-year follow-up period.
MEASUREMENTS: Survival models were used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs in mortality analyses. Poisson regression was used to estimate incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% CIs in intradialytic hypotension analyses. Inverse probability of treatment weighting was used to adjust for several demographic, clinical, laboratory, and dialysis treatment covariates in all analyses.
RESULTS: 27,064 individuals receiving maintenance hemodialysis were included: 9,558 (35.3%) carvedilol initiators and 17,506 (64.7%) metoprolol initiators. Carvedilol (vs metoprolol) initiation was associated with greater all-cause (adjusted HR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.02-1.16) and cardiovascular mortality (adjusted HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.08-1.29). In subgroup analyses, similar associations were observed among patients with hypertension, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and a recent myocardial infarction, the main cardiovascular indications for β-blocker therapy. During follow-up, carvedilol (vs metoprolol) initiators had a higher rate of intradialytic hypotension (adjusted IRR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.09-1.11).
LIMITATIONS: Residual confounding may exist.
CONCLUSIONS: Relative to metoprolol initiation, carvedilol initiation was associated with higher 1-year all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. One potential mechanism for these findings may be the increased occurrence of intradialytic hypotension after carvedilol (vs metoprolol) initiation.