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Effects of propranolol on resting metabolic rate after severe head injury.

Postabsorptive resting metabolic rate (RMR), measured by indirect calorimetry, and the effect of iv propranolol administration were studied in 12 nonseptic patients with severe head injury by means of indirect calorimetry. Before propranolol RMR was moderately increased (126 +/- 10.4% of predicted values) whereas urinary excretion of catecholamines was markedly elevated (p less than .01 vs. normal values). RMR was significantly correlated with both resting heart rate (HR) (r = .72, p less than .01) and 24-h urinary N excretion (r = .85, p less than .001). The administration of iv propranolol (0.1 mg/kg) produced a rapid decrease in HR (-10 +/- 4%, p less than .001) and in RMR (-6.1 +/- 2.3%, p less than .001). Further administration of propranolol produced no additional reduction in either HR or RMR. We conclude that severely head-injured patients are moderately hypermetabolic in resting and postabsorptive conditions, and that acute iv propranolol administration induces a reduction of about one quarter of the resting hypermetabolism.

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