Research Article

Effects of pirbuterol and sodium nitroprusside on pulmonary haemodynamics in hypoxic cor pulmonale.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 22 October 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:1169
  1. W MacNee,
  2. C G Wathen,
  3. W J Hannan,
  4. D C Flenley,
  5. A L Muir


    The acute haemodynamic effects of oral pirbuterol (a beta-agonist) were contrasted with those of sodium nitroprusside, a vasodilator, in six patients with hypoxic chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Sodium nitroprusside (1-5 mg/kg intravenously) reduced mean pulmonary arterial pressure and total pulmonary vascular resistance significantly (p less than 0.01) without change in cardiac output or right ventricular ejection fraction, measured by radionuclide ventriculography. Oral pirbuterol (22.5 mg) produced a greater reduction in total pulmonary vascular resistance than sodium nitroprusside, largely as a result of increasing cardiac output. Right ventricular ejection fraction also increased significantly after pirbuterol (p less than 0.01). Pirbuterol in a lower dosage (15 mg by mouth) in six further patients with hypoxic chronic bronchitis and emphysema produced similar changes in total pulmonary vascular resistance and right ventricular ejection fraction. Nine of the patients who were studied acutely thereafter received pirbuterol 15 mg thrice daily for six weeks, which produced a significant fall in systolic pulmonary arterial pressure and a rise in right ventricular ejection fraction (p less than 0.01), without a significant fall in arterial oxygen tension. Pirbuterol acts as a vasodilator on the pulmonary circulation in these patients and may in addition improve right ventricular performance by an inotropic action.