Several postinfarction trials have evaluated the effect of secondary prophylaxis with different beta-blockers. Although so called meta-analysis of the results from all the trials have shown a beneficial effect of postinfarction beta-blockade, many of the individual studies have shown inconclusive results, mainly due to low statistical power. In order to obtain an evaluation of the merits of postinfarction therapy with metoprolol, data from the five available studies with metoprolol have been pooled into one database. In the total material 5474 patients (4353 men, 1121 women) have been studied during double-blind therapy with metoprolol 100 mg twice daily or matching placebo. The follow-up time ranges from 3 months to 3 years. In total 4732 patient years of observation have been obtained.

In total there were 223 deaths in the placebo-treated patients as compared to 188 deaths in the metoprolol-treated patients (P = 0.036), which corresponds to mortality rates of 97.0 and 78.3 per 1000 patient years, respectively. The mortality reduction was found both in men and women. As has been reported from individual postinfarction beta-blocker trials, the pooled results showed a marked reduction in sudden deaths (104 in the placebo group, 62 in the metoprolol group, P = 0.002). In a Cox regression model the influence of sex, age and smoking habits on the effect of metoprolol was evaluated. None of these factors influenced the metoprolol effect signficantly.

It is concluded that metoprolol therapy after acute myocardial infarction reduces the total number of deaths, and especially sudden cardiac deaths. The mortality reduction was independent of gender, age and smoking habits. A vailable data support a continuous beneficial effect.

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