Background: Excessive sympathoexcitation could lead to stroke associated infection. Inhibiting sympathetic excitation may reduce the infection risk after stroke. Thus, the present study aimed to determine the protective effect of beta blockers on stroke associated infection through systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: A systematic search of multiple databases were performed up to February 2022. The included studies required beta blockers therapy in stroke patients and assessed the incidence of stroke-associated infections. Outcomes of interest included infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infection and sepsis. Random-effects model was used for analysis. Heterogeneity was evaluated using I2 statistics and publication bias was evaluated by the funnel plot.

Result: A total of 83 potentially relevant publications was identified in the initial search. Six studies met the inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. The risk of bias in the included articles satisfies the quality requirement of meta-analysis. No significant associations between beta blockers therapy and the prevention of stroke associated infection, stroke associated pneumonia and septicemia were found, However, subgroup analyses revealed an association between beta blockers treatment and the increased risk of post-stroke urinary tract infection or stroke associated pneumonia in some stroke patients (OR = 1.69 [1.33, 2.14], P < 0.0001; OR = 1.85 [1.51, 2.26], P < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Due to the lack of robust evidence, this meta-analysis may not support the preventive effect of beta blockers on stroke associated infection. But beta blockers treatment may be associated with development of post-stroke urinary tract infection and stroke associated pneumonia in some stroke patients.