Increased toxicity of high-dose furosemide versus low-dose dopamine in the treatment of refractory congestive heart failure

G Cotter, J Weissgarten, E Metzkor, Y Moshkovitz, I Litinski, U Tavori, C Perry, R Zaidenstein, A Golik
Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 1997, 62 (2): 187-93

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of low-dose dopamine, high-dose furosemide, and their combination in the treatment of refractory congestive heart failure.

METHODS: Twenty consecutive patients with refractory congestive heart failure were randomized to receive intravenous low-dose (4 micrograms/kg/min) dopamine combined with low-dose (80 mg/day) oral furosemide (group A; n = 7), intravenous low-dose dopamine with medium-dose furosemide (5 mg/kg/day through continuous intravenous administration; group B; n = 7), or high-dose furosemide (10 mg/kg/day through continuous intravenous administration; group C; n = 6).

RESULTS: The three groups showed similar improvement in signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure, urinary output (2506 +/- 671 ml/24 hr, mean +/- SD) and weight loss (3.3 +/- 2.3 kg) after 72 hours of therapy. Mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) decreased by 14% +/- 8% and 15% +/- 6% in groups B and C, respectively, but increased by 4% +/- 15% in group A (p = 0.017). Renal function deteriorated significantly in groups B and C: creatinine clearance decreased by 41% +/- 23% and 42% +/- 23%, respectively, but increased by 14% +/- 35% in group A (p = 0.0074). MAP decrease was positively correlated with the decrease in creatinine clearance (r = 0.7; p = 0.0007). Patients in group B and C had more hypokalemia than group A. Two patients in group C sustained acute oliguric renal failure and one patient in group B died suddenly while sustaining severe hypokalemia.

CONCLUSION: Combined low-dose intravenous dopamine and oral furosemide have similar efficacy but induce less renal impairment and hypokalemia than higher doses of intravenous furosemide taken either alone or with low-dose dopamine. The renal impairment induced by intravenous furosemide is probably related to its hypotensive effect in patients with refractory congestive heart failure.

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