ACLS and Vasopressin
Vasopressin is a primary drug used in the pulseless arrest algorithm. In high concentrations, it raises blood pressure by inducing moderate vasoconstriction, and it has been shown to be more effective than epinephrine in asystolic cardiac arrest (Wenzel V, Krismer AC, Arntz HR, Sitter H, Stadlbauer KH, Lindner KH (January 2004). “A comparison of vasopressin and epinephrine for out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation”. N. Engl. J. Med. 350 (2): 105–13. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa025431. PMID 14711909.)
One major indication for vasopressin over epinephrine is its lower risk for adverse side effects when compared with epinephrine. With epinephrine, some studies have shown a risk of increased myocardial oxygen consumption and post arrest arrhythmias because of an increase in heart rate and contractility (beta 1 effects). Vasopressin also is thought to cause cerebral vessel dilation and theoretically increase cerebral perfusion.
Trivia: Another name for vasopressin is antidiuretic hormone (ADH).
Vasopressin may be given IV/IO or by endotracheal tube.
40 units of vasopressin IV/IO push may be given to replace the first or second dose of epinephrine, and at this time, there is insufficient evidence for recommendation of a specific dose per the endotracheal tube.
In the ACLS pulseless arrest algorithm, vasopressin may replace the first or second dose of epinephrine.