Epinephrine is the primary drug used in the cardiac arrest algorithm. It is used for its potent vasoconstrictive effects and also for its ability to increase cardiac output. Epinephrine is considered a vasopressor.
Indications for ACLS
- Vasoconstriction effects: epinephrine binds directly to alpha-1 adrenergic receptors of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) causing direct vasoconstriction, thus, improving perfusion pressure to the brain and heart.
- Cardiac Output: epinephrine also binds to beta-1-adrenergic receptors of the heart. This indirectly improves cardiac output by:
- Increasing heart rate
- Increasing heart muscle contractility
- Increasing conductivity through the AV node
- Intravenous Push/IO: 1mg epinephrine IV is given every 3-5 minutes.
- IV infusion for bradycardia: 1mg epinephrine is mixed with 500ml of NS or D5W. The infusion should run at 2-10 micrograms/min (titrated to effect).
- IV infusion for post-cardiac arrest hypotension: The dosing is 2 to 10 micrograms/min.
- Endotracheal Tube: 2-2.5mg epinephrine is diluted in 10cc NS and given directly into the ET tube.
Epinephrine is used in the cardiac arrest algorithm as a direct IV push and also in the bradycardia algorithm as an infusion. See the respective algorithm pages for more information about their use in each.
During ACLS, epinephrine can be given 3 ways: intravenous; intraosseous, and endotracheal tube
Epinephrine should be used with caution in patients suffering from myocardial infarction since epinephrine increases heart rate and raises blood pressure. This increase in HR and BP can increase myocardial oxygen demand and worsen ischemia.
Note: There is no clinical evidence that the use of epinephrine, when used during cardiac arrest, increases rates of survival to discharge from the hospital. However, studies have shown that epinephrine and vasopressin improve rates of ROSC (return of spontaneous circulation).
Return to ACLS Drugs Main Page.
Whats the rationale behind the dilution of epinephrine to 9ml nss? Thanks
The dilution in 9 mL of normal saline is done improve the delivery and distribution of the medication, a larger volume of fluid is often used to help push the medication into the bloodstream and increase its overall effectiveness.
If a patient is already on an epi drip and they code, are we still doing epi pushes per the algorithm?
This is not clarified within the AHA guidelines. I have seen it done either way. Some people stop the drip and only use the Epi pushes and some people leave the epi drip going and still use the Epi pushes.
Is there a max number of doses that should be given during a code. At some point does the epi become toxic?
There is not a max number of doses. Epinephrine is metabolized fairly quickly by the body.
Kind regards, Jeff
Can you give more than 1mg epi push during a code? Say like 2mg epi push? Then wait the standard time.
The maximum single dose that can be given during a code is 1 mg. There are no standards that call for anything greater than 1 mg IV push every 3 to 5 minutes.
Should epi being given during a code be given rapid IV push? I have seen ACLS guidelines specifically mention giving Amiodarone rapidly, but I have not seen any specifics mentioned for epi. Thanks so much in advance.
Yes. Epinephrine is given rapid IV push. This is true for any medication given during the cardiac arrest algorithm.
For an epinephrine infusion, 1 mg is diluted in 500 ml of normal Saline or D5W.
Thank you for taking questions.
Is the dosing of 2-10 mcg/min for the epi infusion in the brady algorithm and in post cardiac care algorithm using the epinephrine concentration of 1:10,000 or 1:1000? Thank you again.
For an epinephrine infusion, 1 mg is diluted in 500 mg of normal Saline or D5W.