n Cardiovascular Journal of Africa - Management and outcome of topical beta-blocker-induced atrioventricular block : cardiovascular topics

Volume 26, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1995-1892



Topical beta-blockers have a well-established role in the treatment of glaucoma. We aimed to investigate the outcome of patients who developed symptomatic atrioventricular (AV) block induced by topical beta-blockers.

All patients admitted or discharged from our institution, the Siyami Ersek Training and Research Hospital, between January 2009 and January 2013 with a diagnosis of AV block were included in the study. Subjects using ophthalmic beta-blockers were recruited and followed for permanent pacemaker requirement during hospitalisation and for three months after discontinuation of the drug. A permanent pacemaker was implanted in patients in whom AV block persisted beyond 72 hours or recurred during the follow-up period.
A total of 1 122 patients were hospitalised with a diagnosis of AV block and a permanent pacemaker was implanted in 946 cases (84.3%) during the study period. Thirteen patients using ophthalmic beta-blockers for the treatment of glaucoma and no other rate-limiting drugs were included in the study. On electrocardiography, eight patients had complete AV block and five had high-degree AV block. The ophthalmic beta-blockers used were timolol in seven patients (55%), betaxolol in four (30%), and cartelol in two cases (15%). The mean duration of ophthalmic beta-blocker treatment was 30.1 ± 15.9 months. After drug discontinuation, in 10 patients the block persisted and a permanent pacemaker was implanted. During follow up, one more patient required pacemaker implantation. Therefore in total, pacemakers were implanted in 11 out of 13 patients (84.6%). The pacemaker implantation rate did not differ according to the type of topical beta-blocker used ( = 0.37). The presence of infra-nodal block on electrocardiography was associated with higher rates of pacemaker implantation.
Our results indicate that topical beta-blockers for the treatment of glaucoma may cause severe conduction abnormalities and when AV block occurs, pacemaker implantation is required in a high percentage of the patients.

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