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Giving high-dose dexamethasone as a prophylactic during heart surgery didn't reduce cardiovascular events, but it may diminish respiratory failure and infections, researchers found.

In a randomized, controlled trial, there was no significant difference in a primary composite endpoint of adverse cardiovascular events between those given a high dose of the steroid and those given placebo (P=0.07), Jan Dieleman, MD, of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and colleagues reported.

But dexamethasone did appear to lessen both the duration of postoperative respiratory failure and infection (P=0.02 and P<0.001), they wrote in the Nov. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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