UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Critical Care

Title: Epinephrine versus norepinephrine in cardiac arrest patients with post-resuscitation shock

Keywords: OHCA, shock, epinephine, norepinephrine, cardiac arrest (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/23/2022 by William Teeter, MD (Updated: 8/15/2022)
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The use of catecholamines following OHCA has been a mainstay option for management for decades. Epinephrine is the most commonly used drug for cardiovascular support, but norepinephrine and dobutamine are also used. There is relatively poor data in their use in the out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). This observational multicenter trial in France enrolled 766 patients with persistent requirement for catecholamine infusion post ROSC for 6 hours despite adequate fluid resuscitation. 285 (37%) received epinephrine and 481 (63%) norepinephrine.

Findings

  • Deaths from refractory shock (35% vs. 9%, P<0.001) and Recurrent cardiac arrest (9% vs. 3%, P<0.001) were higher in the epinephrine group
  • In both univariate/multivariate analyses, use of epinephrine was significantly associated with:
    • All-cause mortality during the hospital stay (83% vs. 61%, P<0.001) / (OR 2.6, 95%CI 1.4–4.7, P=0.002)
    • Cardiovascular-specific mortality (44% vs. 11%, P<0.001) / (aOR 5.5, 95%CI 3.0–10.3, P<0.001)
    • Frequency of unfavorable neurological outcomes (37% vs. 15%, P<0.001) / (aOR 3.0, 95%CI 1.6–5.7, P=0.001)
  • While propensity scoring and match analysis largely confirmed these findings, further regression did not associate epinephrine with all-cause mortality.

Limitations:

  • Epinephrine arm: significantly longer time to ROSC, lower blood pH at admission, higher rates of unshockable rhythm, higher levels of arterial lactate at admission, lower LV ejection fraction, and higher levels of myocardial dysfunction.
  • Propensity matching always has the potential for confounders.

Summary:

Norepinephrine may be a better choice for persistent post-arrest shock. However, this study is not designed to sufficiently address confounders to recommend abandoning epinephrine altogether, but it does give one pause. 

References

Epinephrine versus norepinephrine in cardiac arrest patients with post-resuscitation shock. Intensive Care Med. 2022 Mar;48(3):300-310. doi: 10.1007/s00134-021-06608-7.