Dopamine for Cardiogenic Shock: Shown to Increase Mortality.

Does your friendly neighborhood cardiologist or intensivist start your Cardiogenic Shock patient on dopamine? Do you ever ask them when was the last time they read a study? I don’t mean to be harsh but this data is now almost a decade old.

This study placed dopamine far down on the vasopressor selection totem pole. They looked at patients who were in all types of shock, hypovolemic, septic, and cardiogenic on norepinephrine or dopamine and checked a bunch of outcomes.

What did they find? Well, no difference in mortality EXCEPT in those patients in Cardiogenic Shock. (p=0.03). Also, dopamine caused more severe arrhythmias than norepinephrine: 6.1% vs. 1.6%. Plug those numbers in to the fancy calculator and you get a number needed to treat (NNT) of 22.2. Could be worse but not good.

24.1% of the dopamine patients had arrhythmias and 12.4% in the norepinephrine group. That’s a lot of time managing side effects. No thank you.

Also, I need to find more data on this “renal dose dopamine” nonsense. This study showed an increase in urine output in the first 24 hours but then it evened out. They had an equal fluid balance when all was said and done. Although there was no statistically significant difference (p=0.07) in renal function and the norepinephrine group trended towards having better renal function. I know seeing urine makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside but if it’s providing false reassurance than what is it worth?

Still want to use dopamine? I hope not. Much more to come in the near future regarding all this!



De Backer D, Biston P, Devriendt J, et al. Comparison of dopamine and norepinephrine in the treatment of shock. N Engl J Med. 2010;362(9):779–789. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0907118
Link to Article

Also, I am working on a comprehensive vasopressor post HERE.

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