Relative Bradycardia in Patients With Septic Shock Requiring Vasopressor Therapy

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Abstract

Objectives:

Tachycardia is common in septic shock, but many patients with septic shock are relatively bradycardic. The prevalence, determinants, and implications of relative bradycardia (heart rate, < 80 beats/min) in septic shock are unknown. To determine mortality associated with patients who are relatively bradycardic while in septic shock.

Design:

Retrospective study of patients admitted for septic shock to study ICUs during 2005–2013.

Setting:

One large academic referral hospital and two community hospitals.

Patients:

Adult patients with septic shock requiring vasopressors.

Intervention:

None.

Measurements:

Primary outcome was 28-day mortality. We used multivariate logistic regression to evaluate the association between relative bradycardia and mortality, controlling for confounding with inverse probability treatment weighting using a propensity score.

Results:

We identified 1,554 patients with septic shock, of whom 686 (44%) met criteria for relative bradycardia at some time. Twenty-eight-day mortality in this group was 21% compared to 34% in the never-bradycardic group (p < 0.001). Relatively bradycardic patients were older (65 vs 60 yr; p < 0.001) and had slightly lower illness severity (Sequential Organ Failure Assessment, 10 vs 11; p = 0.004; and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II, 27 vs 28; p = 0.008). After inverse probability treatment weighting, covariates were balanced, and the association between relative bradycardia and survival persisted (p < 0.001).

Conclusions:

Relative bradycardia in patients with septic shock is associated with lower mortality, even after adjustment for confounding. Our data support expanded investigation into whether inducing relative bradycardia will benefit patients with septic shock.

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