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Cardiovasc Res. 2001 Aug 15;51(3):529-41.

Employing vasopressin during cardiopulmonary resuscitation and vasodilatory shock as a lifesaving vasopressor.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Leopold-Franzens-University, Anichstrasse 35, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria.


Epinephrine during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is being discussed controversially due to its beta-receptor mediated adverse effects such as increased myocardial oxygen consumption, ventricular arrhythmias, ventilation-perfusion defect, postresuscitation myocardial dysfunction, ventricular arrhythmias and cardiac failure. In the CPR laboratory simulating adult pigs with ventricular fibrillation or postcountershock pulseless electrical activity, vasopressin improved vital organ blood flow, cerebral oxygen delivery, resuscitability, and neurological recovery better than did epinephrine. In paediatric preparations with asphyxia, epinephrine was superior to vasopressin, whereas in both paediatric pigs with ventricular fibrillation, and adult porcine models with asphyxia, combinations of vasopressin and epinephrine proved to be highly effective. This may suggest that a different efficiency of vasopressors in paediatric vs. adult preparations; and different effects of dysrhythmic vs. asphyxial cardiac arrest on vasopressor efficiency may be of significant importance. Whether these theories can be extrapolated to humans is unknown at this point in time. In patients with out-of-hospital ventricular fibrillation, a larger proportion of patients treated with vasopressin survived 24 h compared with patients treated with epinephrine; during in-hospital CPR, comparable short-term survival was found in groups treated with either vasopressin or epinephrine. Currently, a large trial of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients being treated with vasopressin vs. epinephrine is ongoing in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The new CPR guidelines of both the American Heart Association, and European Resuscitation Council recommend 40 U vasopressin intravenously, and 1 mg epinephrine intravenously as equally effective for the treatment of adult patients in ventricular fibrillation; however, no recommendation for vasopressin was made to date for adult patients with asystole and pulseless electrical activity, and paediatrics due to lack of clinical data. When adrenergic vasopressors were unable to maintain arterial blood pressure in patients with vasodilatory shock, continuous infusions of vasopressin ( approximately 0.04 to approximately 0.1 U/min) stabilised cardiocirculatory parameters, and even ensured weaning from catecholamines.

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