UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Critical Care

Title: Bolus Dose Nitrates in Acute Pulmonary Edema

Keywords: Acute pulmonary edema, Bolus nitrates (PubMed Search)

Posted: 12/27/2016 by Rory Spiegel, MD (Updated: 7/17/2024)
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It is well known that the early aggressive utilization of IV nitrates and non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIV) in patients presenting with acute pulmonary edema will decrease the number of patients requiring endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. 

Often our tepid dosing of nitroglycerine is to blame for treatment failure. Multiple studies have demonstrated the advantages of bolus dose nitroglycerine in the early management of patients with acute pulmonary edema. In these cohorts, patients bolused with impressively high doses of IV nitrates every 5 minutes, are intuabted less frequently than patients who received a standard infusion (1,2). No concerning drops in blood pressure in the patients who received bolus doses of nitrates were observed. Using the standard 200 micrograms/ml nitroglycerine concentration, blood pressure can be rapidly titrated to effect.




1.    Cotter G, Metzkor E, Kaluski E, et al. Randomised trial of high-dose isosorbide dinitrate plus low-dose furosemide versus high-dose furosemide plus low-dose isosorbide dinitrate in severe pulmonary oedema. Lancet. 1998;351(9100):389-93.

2.    Levy P, Compton S, Welch R, et al. Treatment of severe decompensated heart failure with high-dose intravenous nitroglycerin: a feasibility and outcome analysis. Ann Emerg Med. 2007;50(2):144-52