Dobutamine is a cardiac inotrope useful in the acute treatment of congestive heart failure. Dobutamine improves cardiac output, decreases pulmonary wedge pressure, and decreases total systemic vascular resistance with little effect on heart rate or systemic arterial pressure. Clinical benefit has been observed to continue for weeks to months following the discontinuation of dobutamine. In addition, tolerance to dobutamine has been observed when infusions last 72 hours or longer. This has led investigators to study the effectiveness of chronic intermittent infusions of dobutamine. Studies utilizing dobutamine doses ranging from 1.5 to 15 μg/kg/min for 4–48 h/wk have shown sustained clinical and hemodynamic improvement in patients suffering from congestive heart failure The mechanism by which dobutamine creates this effect is not entirely known; however, studies suggest dobutamine exerts a physical conditioning effect similar to exercise. Dobutamine infusions have also been associated with morphological and metabolic changes in myocardial tissue consistent with improved myocardial structure and function. The intermittent use of dobutamine may be beneficial in the chronic treatment of congestive heart failure in patients who fail to respond to conventional therapy.
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