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Aminophylline

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

By injection

Aminophylline injection is used together with other medicines to treat the acute symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases in… Read more

Brand names include: Aminophylline Novaplus

Oral route

Aminophylline is used together with other medicine to treat the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and other lung diseases. Aminophylline belongs… Read more

Brand names include: Norphyl, Phyllocontin

Drug classes About this
Bronchodilator, Theophylline

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Aminophylline for cardiac arrest

Aminophylline is a drug that might help resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest when electrical activity is very slow or absent. Aminophylline may restore blood flow to the heart, improve electrical activity and make other drugs used in resuscitation more effective. We found five studies that included 1254 patients who had this type of cardiac arrest in the prehospital setting. Four of the five studies (1186 patients) were well‐designed studies with low risk of bias. Although no adverse events were reported, aminophylline showed no advantage when it was added to the standard resuscitation practice of paramedics when compared with placebo in these patients. It is not known whether giving aminophylline sooner would be helpful.

Theophylline, aminophylline, caffeine and analogues for acute ischaemic stroke

Theophylline and related drugs, which can enlarge brain blood vessels, are of no apparent benefit in the early treatment of strokes caused by blood clots. Most strokes are caused by a blood clot which then reduces blood flow in the affected part of the brain. Without an adequate blood supply, the brain quickly suffers damage which is often permanent. Drugs which can improve brain blood flow might reduce damage and improve outcome after stroke. Theophylline and related drugs have the ability to alter brain blood flow. This systematic review assesses whether this type of drug improves outcome after stroke. The review identified two small trials, neither of which found any benefit. The limited amount of data mean that there is no evidence at present to suggest that theophylline and related drugs should be used in acute stroke.

Intravenous aminophylline for acute severe asthma in children over two years receiving inhaled bronchodilators

Acute asthma is a common paediatric emergency prevalent in many countries. Treatment aims to reverse asthma by opening up the airways and targeting the underlying inflammation of the airways. Beta‐agonists, anticholinergic agents and glucocorticoids are currently the most commonly used strategies. In the past, aminophylline has been extensively used for the management of acute asthma, despite side effects. However, its use has declined with the availability of effective inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids. The purpose of this review was to assess whether the use of intravenous aminophylline in children receiving maximised inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids produced additional beneficial effects. We identified a small number of good quality trials which compared aminophylline with placebo in children given inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoid therapy. This review found evidence that children treated with aminophylline had a greater improvement in lung function than children treated with placebo, when both groups received inhaled bronchodilators and steroids and they responded incompletely to these initial therapies. However, aminophylline use also resulted in greater risk of vomiting. Aminophylline use in children may be appropriate if children have a role in severe acute exacerbations of asthma where response to maximised therapy (inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids) is poor. These results are based on small numbers and further work in this area is required.

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Summaries for consumers

Aminophylline for cardiac arrest

Aminophylline is a drug that might help resuscitate patients in cardiac arrest when electrical activity is very slow or absent. Aminophylline may restore blood flow to the heart, improve electrical activity and make other drugs used in resuscitation more effective. We found five studies that included 1254 patients who had this type of cardiac arrest in the prehospital setting. Four of the five studies (1186 patients) were well‐designed studies with low risk of bias. Although no adverse events were reported, aminophylline showed no advantage when it was added to the standard resuscitation practice of paramedics when compared with placebo in these patients. It is not known whether giving aminophylline sooner would be helpful.

Theophylline, aminophylline, caffeine and analogues for acute ischaemic stroke

Theophylline and related drugs, which can enlarge brain blood vessels, are of no apparent benefit in the early treatment of strokes caused by blood clots. Most strokes are caused by a blood clot which then reduces blood flow in the affected part of the brain. Without an adequate blood supply, the brain quickly suffers damage which is often permanent. Drugs which can improve brain blood flow might reduce damage and improve outcome after stroke. Theophylline and related drugs have the ability to alter brain blood flow. This systematic review assesses whether this type of drug improves outcome after stroke. The review identified two small trials, neither of which found any benefit. The limited amount of data mean that there is no evidence at present to suggest that theophylline and related drugs should be used in acute stroke.

Intravenous aminophylline for acute severe asthma in children over two years receiving inhaled bronchodilators

Acute asthma is a common paediatric emergency prevalent in many countries. Treatment aims to reverse asthma by opening up the airways and targeting the underlying inflammation of the airways. Beta‐agonists, anticholinergic agents and glucocorticoids are currently the most commonly used strategies. In the past, aminophylline has been extensively used for the management of acute asthma, despite side effects. However, its use has declined with the availability of effective inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids. The purpose of this review was to assess whether the use of intravenous aminophylline in children receiving maximised inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids produced additional beneficial effects. We identified a small number of good quality trials which compared aminophylline with placebo in children given inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoid therapy. This review found evidence that children treated with aminophylline had a greater improvement in lung function than children treated with placebo, when both groups received inhaled bronchodilators and steroids and they responded incompletely to these initial therapies. However, aminophylline use also resulted in greater risk of vomiting. Aminophylline use in children may be appropriate if children have a role in severe acute exacerbations of asthma where response to maximised therapy (inhaled bronchodilators and glucocorticoids) is poor. These results are based on small numbers and further work in this area is required.

See all (18)

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