Use of catecholamines in acute myocardial infarction

D W Dixon, H S Loeb, R M Gunnar
Herz 1979, 4 (5): 385-96
We review the hemodynamic effects and clinical usefulness of five natural and synthetic catecholamines. Their actions are best understood by an appreciation of the relative ability of each catecholamine to activate alpha, beta 1 and beta 2 adrenergic receptors in the myocardium and peripheral vasculature. Epinephrine, the first catecholamine isolated, is shown to have little useful role in the therapy of acute myocardial infarction. L-norepinephrine has powerful alpha and moderate beta 1 effects. It is the catecholamine of choice in the initial treatment of cardiogenic shock associated with acute myocardial infarction. Isproterenol markedly increases myocardial contractility and heart rate by beta 1 stimulation, while simultaneously decreasing peripheral vascular resistance and, therefore, arterial pressure through its action on beta 2 receptors. It increases cardiac output, but its metabolic costs are high in the presence of ischemia. Its role in the therapy of acute myocardial infarction has largely been supplanted by more selective agents. Dopamine causes slightly less vasoconstriction than l-norepinephrine and slightly less myocardial stimulation than isoproterenol. In low doses, it increases renal and mesenteric blood flow by activation of a non-adrenergic receptor. Tachycardia and associated metabolic deterioration render it a second-line drug in the treatment of severe cardiogenic shock. Dobutamine, a new synthetic catecholamine, has primarily beta 1 activity. It increases myocardial contractility with little effect on heart rate or peripheral vascular resistance. It is ineffective in cardiogenic shock, but may eventually be shown to have a role in the treatment of left ventricular failure uncomplicated by severe hypotension.

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