Cardiovascular Medicine Book



Aka: Vasopressor, Vasoconstrictor, Push Dose Pressor, Bolus Dose Pressor, Vasopressor Extravasation
  1. See Also
    1. Hypotension
    2. Septic Shock
  2. Background
    1. See specific medications (follow links) for preparation and dosing protocols
    2. Vasopressors are typically used via Central Line access
      1. However may be used peripherally for stabilization in first 1-2 hours (see precautions below)
      2. Push Dose Pressors are typically used via Peripheral IV Access (see below)
  3. Precautions: General
    1. Vasopressors are second-line therapy for Hypotension after cause-specific measures
      1. Start with at least 30 ml/kg of crystalloid in Septic Shock
      2. Replace acute blood loss with blood
    2. Frequently reevaluate volume status, perfusion markers (e.g. Lactic Acid) and Hypotension response
      1. See Hypotension
      2. See Rapid Ultrasound in Shock
    3. Typical targets in adults
      1. See Pediatric Vital Signs
      2. See Hypotension
      3. Mean Arterial Pressure >65 mmHg
      4. Systolic Blood Pressure >90 mmHg
      5. Improved end organ perfusion (e.g. mental status)
  4. Precautions: Peripheral Vasopressor administration
    1. Do not use Vasopressors via unreliable, small or deep peripheral site
      1. Use only larger bore, reliable superficial IVs that can be closely monitored
      2. Avoid peripheral hand IV or Ultrasound-guided deep brachial (occult extravasation risk)
    2. Best to transition within first 2 hours to Central Line Vasopressor delivery
      1. However, norepinephine may be safely used for 24 hours via large bore, reliable peripheral IV
    3. Monitor peripheral IV closely for extravasation
    4. Peripheral Vasopressor delivery appears safe for short-term use (studies looked at 12-24 hours)
      1. Recent studies have demonstrated Norepinephrine peripheral safety
      2. Push Dose Pressors (see below) also appear safe
      3. Ricard (2013) Crit Care Med 4(9): 2108-15 +PMID:23782969 [PubMed]
      4. Cardenas-Garcia (2015) J Hosp Med 10(9): 581-5 +PMID:26014852 [PubMed]
      5. Nguyen (2020) Am J Emerg Med +PMID: 31959524 [PubMed]
    5. Peripheral Vasopressor Extravasation management
      1. Direct others to obtain reliable access (other peripheral IV, IO Line, Central Line)
      2. Leave infiltrating catheter in place until following measures are completed
      3. Use the infiltrating catheter to withdraw as much infused Vasopressor from the site
      4. Phentolamine Mesylate SQ Immediately (even if skin site has not yet whitened)
        1. Dilute Phentolamine vial (5 mg/ml) in 9 ml Normal Saline
        2. Inject diluted phentolamine 0.1 to 0.2 mg/kg (up to 10 mg) SQ into extravasation site
        3. Second dose may be needed
      5. Consult plastic surgery
    6. References
      1. Orman and Weingart (2016) EM:Rap 16(5): 12-3
  5. Preparations: Push Dose Pressors (Bolus Dose Pressors)
    1. Indications
      1. Temporizing measure in severe Hypotension (MAP <60 mmHg)
      2. Bolus pressors typically via peripheral IV (prior to central access)
    2. General
      1. Used initially prior to central Intravenous Access
      2. Medications are used in diluted form
      3. Both Epinephrine and Phenylephrine have onset of action within 1 minute
      4. Phenylephrine duration of action 10-20 minutes
      5. Epinephrine duration of action 5-10 minutes
      6. Precaution: Dosing errors are common (double check concentration and dose)!
        1. Label all syringes with medication and concentration
        2. Holden (2018) Ann Emerg Med 71(1): 83-92 +PMID:28601272 [PubMed]
    3. Epinephrine (diluted to 10 mcg/ml)
      1. Epineprhine 10 mcg/ml, give 0.5 to 2 ml (5-20 mcg) every 2-5 minutes as needed
      2. See Epinephrine for dilution approach (do not use undiluted cardiac Epinephrine)
    4. Intravenous Phenylephrine
      1. Phenylephrine (diluted to 10 mcg/ml) 0.5 to 2 ml (50-200 mcg) every 2-5 minutes as needed
      2. See Phenylephrine for dilution approach (do not use undiluted Phenylephrine)
    5. Norepinephrine
      1. Norepinephrine is typically premixed at 16 mcg/ml (no dilution needed)
      2. Dose: 0.5 to 1 ml (8 to 16 mcg)
      3. Onwochei (2017) Anesth Analg 125(1): 212-8 +PMID:28248702 [PubMed]
    6. References
      1. Swaminathan and Weingart in Herbert (2018) EM:Rap 18(11): 3-4
  6. Preparations: Pressor Infusions - Alpha adrenergic agents (primarily)
    1. Norepinephrine
      1. Indications
        1. Preferred first-line Vasopressor in adults
      2. Receptor Activity
        1. Alpha-1 agonist
        2. Lower beta adrenergic activity
      3. Dosing (adults)
        1. Weight Based (preferred)
          1. Start at 0.05 mcg/kg/min
          2. Titrate to range 0.1 to 0.5 mcg/kg/min (7 to 35 mcg/min in a 70 kg adult)
          3. Unlikely to benefit from titration above 0.3 mcg/kg/min
        2. Non-weight based (adults)
          1. Start at 5 mcg/min (some recommend starting at 0.5 to 1.0 ug/min)
          2. Typical dose range: 2 to 30 mcg/min
      4. Effects
        1. Strong Vasoconstrictor
        2. Minimal chronotropic activity
      5. Adverse effects
        1. Reflex Bradycardia
        2. Tachyarrhythmia
        3. May precipitate Myocardial Ischemia or infarction
    2. Epinephrine
      1. Receptor Activity
        1. Alpha-1 agonist
        2. Lower beta adrenergic activity
      2. Dosing (adults)
        1. Vasopressor: 2-10 mcg/min IV infusion
        2. Symptomatic Bradycardia: 2-10 mcg/min IV infusion
        3. Inotropic dosing: 0.01 to 0.08 mcg/kg/min IV infusion
        4. Push dose (see above): 5-20 mcg IV bolus every 2-5 min
        5. ACLS (pulseless Arrhythmia): 1 mg IV bolus every 3-5 min
      3. Effects
        1. Strong inotropy
        2. Strong chronotropy
      4. Adverse effects
        1. May precipitate Myocardial Ischemia or infarction
    3. Dopamine
      1. Indications
        1. Has been the preferred first-line Vasopressor in children (but significant risks)
        2. Largely replaced by Norepinephrine in adults in U.S.
        3. Theoretically safer than Norepinephrine when used peripherally
          1. However Norepinephrine is often initially used via a reliable peripheral IV safely
        4. Theoretically with greater renal protection than other Vasopressors
          1. Does not appear to offer any significant benefit over other Vasopressors in renal protection
      2. Receptor Activity
        1. Alpha-1 agonist
        2. Moderate beta adrenergic activity
        3. Low Dopaminergic activity
      3. Dosing
        1. Infusion: 5 to 20 mcg/kg/min IV infusion
      4. Effects
        1. Precursor to Norepinephrine
        2. Inotropy and chronotropy at moderate doses
        3. Strong Vasoconstrictor at higher doses
      5. Adverse Effects
        1. Increased risk for Dysrhythmia
        2. Three fold increased mortality in septic children
          1. Ventura (2015) Crit Care Med 43(11): 2292-302 +PMID: 26323041 [PubMed]
    4. Phenylephrine
      1. Indications
        1. Primarily used as a push-dose pressor (see above), especially by Anesthesia
      2. Receptor Activity
        1. Exclusively alpha-1 agonist
      3. Dosing
        1. Infusion: 25-200 mcg/min
        2. Push Dose Pressor: 50-200 mcg every 2-5 min prn
      4. Effects
        1. Strong peripheral Vasoconstrictor (with increased Afterload)
        2. Minimal chronotropic activity
      5. Adverse effects
        1. Reflex Bradycardia
        2. Cardiogenic Shock (avoid use in reduced ejection fraction)
  7. Preparations: Pressor Infusions - Beta adrenergic agents (primarily)
    1. Precautions
      1. Inotropic and chronotropic agents with risk for worsening Hypotension
      2. Exercise caution in Hypotension
      3. Most providers use in combination with a low dose pure Vasopressor (e.g. Norepinephrine)
    2. Dobutamine
      1. Receptor Activity
        1. Primarily Beta-1 Agonist
        2. Also activity as a Beta-2 Agonist
      2. Dosing
        1. Infusion: 5-40 mcg/kg/min
      3. Effects
        1. Strong inotropy
        2. Moderate chronotropy
        3. Mild Vasodilation
      4. Adverse effects
        1. Increases myocardial oxygen demand
        2. Arrhythmogenic
    3. Milrinone
      1. Mechanism
        1. PDE inhibitor blocks breakdown of cyclic Adenosine monophosphate, sustains Catecholamine activity
      2. Receptor Activity
        1. Beta-1 Agonist
        2. Beta-2 Agonist
      3. Dosing
        1. Infusion: 0.125 to 0.5 mcg/kg/min
      4. Adverse Effects
        1. Hypotension risk (avoid in Hypovolemia)
      5. Effects
        1. Strong inotropy, increases Stroke Volume
        2. Decreases Afterload by dilating arterioles
    4. Isoproteronol
      1. Indications
        1. Hypotension due to Bradycardia
      2. Receptor Activity
        1. Beta-1 Agonist
        2. Beta-2 Agonist
      3. Dosing
        1. Infusion: 2 to 10 mcg/min
      4. Effects
        1. Strong inotropy
        2. Strong chronotropy
        3. No significant vascular effect (although may decrease Systemic Vascular Resistance)
        4. Cardiac Output not appreciably affected
  8. Preparations: Pressor Infusions - Other sites of activity
    1. Vasopressin
      1. Indications
        1. Adjunct to other Vasopressors (e.g. Norepinephrine) in refractory Hypotension (especially Septic Shock)
      2. Receptor Activity
        1. Exclusively at Vasopressin receptors (some on vasculature)
      3. Dosing
        1. Infusion: 0.01 to 0.04 units/min
      4. Adverse effects
        1. Higher doses may be associated with ischemia
      5. Effects
        1. Increases Systemic Vascular Resistance while still maintaining CNS and cardiac Blood Flow
        2. Effective, even in severe acidosis
  9. Resources
    1. EM-Crit Blog (Scott Weingart)
  10. References
    1. (2022) ACLS Guidelines, AHA, accessed online 8/5/2022
    2. Goldberg (2015) Crit Dec Emerg Med 29(3): 9-19
    3. McCollum in Herbert (2019) EM:Rap 19(7):4-6

Vasoconstrictor Agents (C0042397)

Definition (MSH) Drugs used to cause constriction of the blood vessels.
Concepts Pharmacologic Substance (T121)
MSH D014662
SnomedCT 372881000, 8571001
English Agents, Vasoconstrictor, Agents, Vasopressor, Agonists, Vasoactive, Vasoactive Agonists, Vasoconstrictor Agents, Vasopressor Agents, vasoconstrictor, Drugs, Vasoconstrictor, Vasoconstrictor Drugs, Vasoconstrictors, Vasoconstrictor Drug, vasopressors, vasopressors (medication), vasoconstrictor agents, vasopressor agents, vasoconstrictors, vasopressor, Vasoconstrictor, Vasoconstrictor (product), Vasoconstrictor (substance), Vasoconstrictor, NOS, Vasopressor Drugs
French Agents vasoconstricteurs, Médicaments vasoconstricteurs, Vasoconstricteurs
Swedish Kärlsammandragande medel
Finnish Vasokonstriktorit
Japanese 血圧上昇剤, 昇圧剤, 脈管作動物質(昇圧), 昇圧物質, 昇圧薬, 血管作動薬(昇圧), 血管収縮剤, 血管収縮薬, 血管収縮因子
Italian Farmaci vasocostrittori, Vasocostrittori
Polish Środki podwyższające ciśnienie, Środki zwężające naczynia krwionośne, Leki kurczące naczynia
Czech vazokonstriktivní látky, vazokonstriktiva, vasokonstriktiva, vazoaktivní látky, vazokonstriktory, vazopresory
Spanish vasoconstrictor (producto), vasoconstrictor (sustancia), vasoconstrictor, Agonistas Vasoactivos, Vasoconstrictores, Vasopresores
German Vasoaktive Agonisten, Vasokonstriktorische Mittel, Vasopressorische Mittel
Portuguese Agentes Vasopressores, Agonistas Vasoativos, Vasoconstritores
Derived from the NIH UMLS (Unified Medical Language System)

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