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Circulation. 1986 Dec;74(6 Pt 2):IV86-9.

Cardiovascular pharmacology. III: Atropine, calcium, calcium blockers, and beta-blockers.


Atropine, calcium, calcium-channel blockers, beta-adrenergic-receptor blockers, oxygen, morphine, vasodilators, and potent diuretics are frequently used in advanced cardiac life support (ACLS). Since the last AHA conference on ACLS standards, little controversy has arisen regarding the use of oxygen, morphine, vasodilators, or potent diuretics. In 1979, a full vagolytic dose of atropine was recommended for use early in the course of asystolic or bradycardiac arrest. Since then reports suggest that this higher dose of atropine may be of some limited value in treating this highly resistant form of arrest. The routine use of calcium for asystole, bradycardiac arrest, and electromechanical dissociation has come under intense scrutiny. Studies have failed to demonstrate improved survival and have found potentially deleterious levels of serum calcium when calcium was administered according to AHA standards. It is also possible that postanoxic cerebral injury is exacerbated by the use of calcium. No controversy exists, however, concerning the use of calcium for the moribund patient with possible hypocalcemia or with an excess of calcium-channel blockers. The use of calcium-channel blockers has been advocated to prevent or retard the intracellular accumulation of calcium, which may cause irreversible postanoxic tissue damage. Calcium-channel blockers may also be useful in preventing or decreasing cerebral and coronary arteriospasm. These drugs have antianginal properties that may decrease ischemia. The antiarrhythmic effect of verapamil is particularly useful in the treatment of uncomplicated paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia. Verapamil and diltiazem slow conduction through the atrioventricular node and may be used to slow the ventricular response in atrial fibrillation and flutter.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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