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Crit Care Clin. 2000 Apr;16(2):251-87.

Myocardial dysfunction in septic shock.

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Section of Critical Care Medicine, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Over the last decade, it has become clear that myocardial depression, like vascular dysfunction, is typical of human septic shock. Human septic myocardial depression is characterized by reversible biventricular dilatation, decreased ejection fraction, and decreased response to fluid resuscitation and catecholamine stimulation (in the presence of overall hyperdynamic circulation). A circulating myocardial depressant substance, not myocardial hypoperfusion, is responsible for this phenomenon. This substance has been shown to represent low concentrations of TNF-alpha and IL-1 beta acting in synergy on the myocardium through mechanisms that include NO and cGMP generation. Despite major advances in our understanding of the hemodynamics and pathogenesis of cardiac dysfunction in sepsis, successful attempts to modulate these mechanisms to improve clinical outcomes in human trials have not been demonstrated to date. For the moment, the therapeutic approach to the patient with cardiac dysfunction in distributive or septic shock must be primarily aimed at reestablishing adequate organ perfusion and oxygen delivery by vigorous fluid resuscitation and vasopressor or inotropic support. In the long term, however, only continued research regarding the cellular mechanisms of organ dysfunction, including septic myocardial depression, will lead to successful therapeutic strategies. These strategies will likely involve direct manipulation of intracellular signaling processes that lead to organ dysfunction as manifested by septic myocardial dysfunction and septic shock.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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