What Are Vasopressors?


Vasopressors are a group of medicines that constrict (tighten) blood vessels and raise blood pressure. They’re used to treat severely low blood pressure, especially in people who are critically ill, according to the Mayo Clinic . They are typically administered in an emergency department or intensive care unit, though they are also available in smaller doses in nasal decongestants and epinephrine injectors to prevent allergic reactions. Very low blood pressure can lead to organ damage and even death. These drugs can help doctors treat patients who are in shock, according to PulmCCM , a state defined by inadequate delivery of blood and oxygen to meet the needs of tissues. Vasopressors have been used since the 1940s. They’re commonly given in combination with medicines called inotropes (which affect cardiac muscle contraction). Common Vasopressors Medicines — including synthetic hormones — that are used as vasopressors include: norepinephrine epinephrine vasopressin dopamine phenylephrine Vasopressor Precautions Vasopressors should only be given under the supervision of a medical professional. These are powerful drugs, and they can be dangerous if used incorrectly. The medicines may reduce blood flow to some parts of the body. With the exception of prescription and over-the-counter products, vasopressors are generally used when a person’s life is in danger due to an underlying disorder that’s causing very low blood pressure. Vasopressors are given through an IV, typically one that has been placed in a large vein. Side Effects of Vasopressors Vasopressors are administered in an emergency or intensive care unit, where the patient will be closely monitored for potential complications, including signs of a stroke or heart attack . Most people receiving vasopressors are in serious or critical condition and may not be able to communicate. The medical staff administering the vasopressor will closely monitor for side effects, including dangerously high blood pressure (which can cause severe headache, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, or seizures); and anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can cause rash, hives, chest tightness, or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue. If you are able to communicate, let your doctor know about all prescription, nonprescription, illegal, recreational, herbal, nutritional, or dietary drugs you’re taking before receiving a vasopressor. Vasopressors and Pregnancy If you are pregnant, your doctor (or emergency room physician) will have to decide whether the benefits of using a vasopressor outweigh the risks. Also, talk to your healthcare provider before breastfeeding if you’ve received a vasopressor.



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