Research Article

Acute circulatory support.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 03 July 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:35
  1. M J Barnard,
  2. S P Linter
  1. Harefield Hospital, Middlesex.


    Numerous drugs can increase cardiac output, thereby improving tissue oxygen delivery, but often they do this at the expense of increasing myocardial oxygen demand. This may be critical when cardiac function is substantially impaired or ischaemia is the precipitating cause. Using polypharmacy to substantially improve cardiovascular status requires detailed knowledge of the pharmacodynamics and interactions of the available agents so that they may be tailored to the individual patient. In some settings combinations of inotropes and vasodilators may be desirable to minimise cardiac workload. In other instances vasopressors may be necessary to urgently restore a minimum perfusion pressure. This paper reviews the use of this group of drugs as well as the mechanical assist devices that may be used when drugs fail.