Excessive adrenergic signaling may be harmful in sepsis. Using β-blockers to reduce sympathetic overactivity may modulate sepsis-induced cardiovascular, metabolic, immunologic, and coagulation alterations. Using a randomized ovine fecal peritonitis model, we investigated whether administration of a short-acting β-blocker, esmolol, could control tachycardia without deleterious effects on hemodynamics, renal perfusion, cerebral perfusion, cerebral metabolism, or outcome.METHODS:
After induction of fecal peritonitis, 14 anesthetized, mechanically ventilated, and hemodynamically monitored adult female sheep were randomly assigned to receive a continuous intravenous infusion of esmolol to control heart rate between 80 and 100 bpm (n = 7) or a saline infusion (control group, n = 7). Esmolol was discontinued when the mean arterial pressure decreased below 60 mm Hg. Fluid resuscitation was titrated to maintain pulmonary artery occlusion pressure at baseline values. Left renal blood flow and cerebral cortex perfusion and metabolism were monitored in addition to standard hemodynamic variables.RESULTS:
Esmolol was infused for 11 (9–14) hours; the target heart rate (80–100 bpm) was achieved between 3 and 8 hours after feces injection. In the first 5 hours after the start of the infusion, the decrease in heart rate was compensated by an increase in stroke volume index; later, stroke volume index was not statistically significantly different in the 2 groups, so that the cardiac work index was lower in the esmolol than in the control group. Hypotension (mean arterial pressure <60 mm Hg) occurred earlier (10 [8–12] vs 14 [11–20] hours; P= .01) in the esmolol group than in the control animals. Renal blood flow decreased earlier in the esmolol group, but there were no differences in urine output, cerebral cortex perfusion, metabolism, or survival between the groups.CONCLUSIONS:
In this ovine model of abdominal sepsis, early control of tachycardia by esmolol was associated with a transient increase in stroke volume, followed by earlier hypotension. There were no significant effects of esmolol on cerebral perfusion, metabolism, urine output, or survival.