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Keywords

inotrope, titration, vasodilator, vasopressor

 

Authors

  1. Coons, James C. PharmD, BCPS
  2. Seidl, Edward PharmD

Abstract

Pharmacologic agents including vasodilators, inotropes, and vasopressors are frequently used in the critical care setting for management of the unstable cardiac patient. These medications are used to elicit varying effects on vascular resistance, myocardial contractility, and heart rate to help achieve desired hemodynamic and clinical endpoints. Therefore, it is important for the critical care nurse to have a practical understanding and working knowledge of cardiovascular pharmacotherapy in the intensive care unit setting. This article reviews the pharmacology and clinical utility of commonly used intravenous "vasoactive" medications encountered in the intensive care unit. We also highlight innovations in pharmacotherapy for this patient population, and provide practical considerations for the most appropriate and safe use of these medications.