Just recently our ICU team was called to the wards to look at a 74 year old gentlemen with sudden shortness of breath and low peripheral saturations. He was known to suffer of hypertensive heart disease and now presented with acute pulmonary oedema. After giving oxygen over a non-rebreathing mask he was administered furosemide (Lasix) intravenously and brought to the unit for non-invasive ventilation.
Interestingly a discussion started on whether giving Lasix as a first line agent in the acute setting of pulmonary oedema is beneficial or not. A quick look into to current literature gave no clear answer and reading further into the topic revealed amazing properties of Lasix we hadn't been really aware of so far. We all use and love Lasix, but do we really know the drug?
The Beginning of Lasix
Furosemide (sometimes also called frusemide) was first developed by 'Farbwerke Hoechst AG' in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, a company that was founded back in the year 1863. Karl Stürm, Walter Siedel and Rüdi Weyer set the basis with the invention of N-substituted-3-Carboxy-6-Halo-Sulfanilamide and it's derivates, one of them being furosemide. The researchers soon noticed its saluretic (sodium Na, potassium K and chloride Cl) and diuretic effect in almost equivalent proportions. As these substances did not cause any acidosis nor alkalosis they suggested their future usage for the treatment of oedema and hypertension.
The Naming of Furosemide
Researchers soon noticed that the diuretic effect of furosemide lasted for about 6 hours... 'LAsts for SIX hours'... and therefore gave it the name: LASIX!
What is Furosemide
Furosemide is an organic anion from the group of loop diuretics (as are bumatenide and torasemide) and is sold under the brand name of Lasix©. It's indications are for the treatment of oedema due to heart or liver disease as well as kidney disease. It is also used for the treatment of mild or moderate hypertension. Furosemide has become one of the cornerstones in the treatment of heart failure.
How does it work?
Furosemide can be applied by oral intake as a tablet or as an intravenous injection. Once in the blood stream it is predominantly bound to proteins (>90%).
Loop diuretics do not undergo glomerular filtration. In fact they pass the glomerulus and are actively secreted across proximal tubular cells by organic anion transporters and the multidrug resistance associated protein 4 (area A). It is important to know that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and endogenous uremic anions compete with this loop diuretic secretion and can cause 'diuretic resistance'.
Once loop diuretics have reached the tubular system they bind to to sodium-potassium-chloride co-transporters (NKCC2) in the ascending limb of the loop of Henle and block the reabsorption of these ions directly (area B). Further down at the macula densa they inhibit the same co-transporter (area B) thereby stimulating renin secretion and inhibiting tubuloglomerular feedback. This results in preserved glomerular filtration despite increased salt delivery to the macula densa. All this finally results in the loss of sodium, chloride and potassium and therefor loss of water.
Furosemide also interacts with other sodium-potassium-chloride co-transporters (NKCC1) elsewhere in the body:
- Blocking NKCC1 in the ear probably explains the ototoxicity of loop diuretics
- Blocking NKCC1 in smooth muscle cells causes vasodilation
- Blocking NKCC1 in the afferent arteriole and near the macula densa elevates renin secretion and the generation of angiotensin II
These complex interactions on haemodynamics explain that the net response in each patient might be different. On the one hand loop diuretics dilate blood vessels directly and increase the level of vasodilatory prostaglandins. On the other hand some of these effects counteract each other making it difficult to predict which effect will finally predominate.
Many studies have looked closer into the vasoactive properties of furosemide. Current evidence indicates that it has systemic venodilator effect which actually reduced preload acutely. The same investigators found a reduction in the right atrial pressure and the pulmonary capillary wedge pressure, presumably reflecting the systemic venodilator effect of furosemide.
While the acute venodilator effect may be beneficial to the failing heart its action on arteries might be detrimental. Several studies have shown that in patients with chronic heart failure furosemide causes arterial vasoconstriction. Also there is one study showing that pulmonary vascular resistance in healthy volunteers rose significantly.
Francis GS et al described how the administration of furosemide actually led to decreased LV function, increased LV filling pressures, increases in MAP, SVR, plasma renin activity, and plasma noradrenaline levels.
Beneficial venodilator response predominates over arterial vasoconstriction in patients with (1) myocardial infarction and (2) salt depleted volunteers.
Venous relaxant effect has not been demonstrated in patients with chronic heart failure. In this setting detrimental arterial vasoconstriction seems to predominate.
Pardeep S et al. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Jul; 50(1): 9–13.
Francis GS et al. Ann Int Med 1985; 103(1): 1-6.
Administered orally furosemide has a limited and highly variable bioavailability. The diuretic effect starts within the first hour and the duration of action is around 6 hours (4-8 hours). Injected intravenously furosemide is approximately twice as potent on per-miligramm basis as oral doses.
In acute decompensated heart failure sodium retention becomes more avid and higher peak levels might be required to become more effective. This can be achieved by giving furosemide intravenously.
Once a loop diuretic is administered, the excretion of sodium chloride is increased for several hours. This is then followed by a period of very low sodium excretion resulting in a so called 'post-diuretic retention'.
How to use Furosemide for Acute Decompensated Heart Failure (ADHF)
So far for the basics of furosemide, but what about it's usage for acutely decompensated heart failure? Should furosemide be given as soon as possible or not?
The 2013 ACCF/AHA guidelines for the management of patients with heart failure give diuretics a class I recommendation. The evidence behind these recommendations though is level B or level C only! So these recommendations are not really helpful to answer this question.
The authors in UpToDate® mention diuretics directly after the use of oxygen. For patients with evidence of volume overload their recommendation is to give loop diuretics immediately (Grad 1B) as there is evidence that in this setting this may improve outcomes. They also suggest that patients with ADHF usually are volume overloaded, therefor suggesting that most patients should receive diuretics ASAP.
The only exception they mention where some delay in inducing diuresis might be required is in patients with severe hypotension or cardiogenic shock.
There is reasonable doubt that patients with ADHF are usually volume overloaded, as suggested by UpToDate®. Zile MR et al. demonstrated that while most patients with acute pulmonary oedema have increased filling pressures, most did not have significant increases from their dry weight on presentation! Fallick et al. actually argue that it isn't fluid gain but rather shift in fluids from other compartments, particularly shift from the splanchnic circulation, which is normally very compliant.
And as mentioned above, there is evidence that giving a straight shot of furosemide might actually influence haemodynamics negatively in different ways (decreased LV function, increased LV filling pressures, increases in MAP, SVR, plasma renin activity and plasma noradrenaline levels).
In conclsion there is no straight forward answer to this question but I would put it down as follows:
- Furosemide should not be routinely used for the immediate treatment of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF)/ acute pulmonary oedema
- However, in patients with evidence of volume overload the administration of early furosemide (preferentially given as an intravenous bolus) seems beneficial and improves outcome. But beware, most patients are not volume overloaded!
- In urgent situations the focus should be on early non-invasive ventilation and the administration of nitroglycerin!
David H et al. N Engl J Med 2017;377:1964-75.
Wilson S et al., UpToDate.com 2018
WRITING COMMITTEE MEMBERS, Yancy CW, Jessup M, et al. 2013 ACCF/AHA guideline for the management of heart failure: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. Circulation 2013; 128:e240.
Zile MR, Bennett TD, St John Sutton M, et al. Circulation 2008 Sep 30;118(14):1433-41
Fallick C et al. Circ Heart Fail 2011; 4: 669-75.
Clinicians are confronted every day with a growing number pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) and implantable loop recorders (ILRs). Collectively these devices are sub summarized as cardiac rhythm management devices (CRMDs). Identification of these devices is simple as long a the patient can present an ID card or some other form of identification. This can become challenging especially in emergencies where such information might not be accessible and interrogation of the pacemaker becomes a problem.
Using the wrong manufacturer-specific device programmer causes delay in diagnostic and treatment and can be relevant in these situations.
Techniques to identify a CRMD are following:
- Patient's ID card
- Medical records
- Manufacturers' patient registries (All CRMD manufacturers keep their own in-house registry of patients implanted with their devices and provide 24-hour telephone technical support
- Device specific radiopaque alphanumeric codes (ANC)
All these identification techniques have their problems in clinical practice and so far no other technique or algorithm was available to help out in such a dilemma. Sony Jacob et al. have therefor developed and validated the so called
Cardiac Rhythm Device Identification Algorithm using X-rays (CaRDIA-X, see below)
The study participants using this algorithm showed an overall accuracy of 96.9%. This study was published in 2011 but only now caught our attention.
We have tried this algorithm on a few X-rays ourselves and came to the conclusion:
Using the chart is a little challenge itself, but very helpful in most cases! Certainly worth keeping in mind!
Jacob S et al. Heart Rhythm. 2011 Jun;8(6):915-22.
When filling out the form for a CT scan in you hospital you will not only have to provide clinical information about the patient but almost certainly also the latest creatinine levels. This information is required as many clinicians are worried that IV contrast media might cause iatrogenic acute kidney injury and therefore increased rates of dialysis, renal failure, and death. Despite several reports of contrast-induced nephropathies in the past, the causal relationship between IV contrast media and the development of acute kidney injury has been challenged recently (Read our previous summary HERE).
The major problem is that performing a randomized controlled trial to elucidate the true incidence of contrast-induced nephropathy is considered unethical because of the presumption that contrast media administration is a direct cause of acute kidney injury.
While the discussion goes on Hinson et al. have come up with another nice piece of evidence that in emergency situations there is no reason to withhold the application of IV contrast for CT scans when required.
In this single-center retrospective cohort study researchers have included a total of 17'934 patient visits to their emergency department over a period of 5 years. They analysed three patient groups that where demographically similar: contrast-enhanced CT, unenhanced CT and no CT scan performed. Patients were included when their initial serum creatinine level was between 35 umol/L and 352 umol/L. Of all CT scans, 57.2 percent were contrast-enhanced. The probability of developing acute kidney injury was 6.8 percent for patients undergoing contrast-enhanced CT, 8.9 percent for patients receiving unenhanced CT and 8.1 percent for patients not receiving CT at all. This proofs to be the largest controlled study of its kind in the emergency department and shows that:
In current clinical context, contrast media administration for CT scans is NOT associated with an increased incidence of acute kidney injury. And even though a large randomised controlled trial is still missing it seems safe...
There is no reason to withhold the use of IV contrast media in cases where contrast-enhanced CT is indicated to avoid delayed or missed diagnosis of critical disease.
Hinson J et al. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.11.021 OPEN ACCESS
Crit Cloud Review from 18/01/2015
For the resuscitation out-of-hospital one of the mainstays besides compression and defibrillation ist the application of adrenalin and amiodarone. According to the new ACLS guidelines 2015 these are the only drugs remaining in the treatment for shockable rhythms.
While adrenaline is given for maximum vasoconstriction in order to promote coronary perfusion pressure CPP, amiodarone and sometimes lidocaine are used to promote successful defibrillation of shock-refractory ventricular fibrillation VF or pulseless ventricular tachycardia VT. While the usage of these drugs is undoubtedly very effective in patients with existing circulation the effectiveness during resuscitation remains a matter of debate.
The Effect of Adrenaline
As a matter of fact it has never been proven that adrenalin actually improves long-term outcome. In 2014 Steve Lin and colleagues published a systemativ review on the efficacy of adrenaline in adult out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). They were able to show that according to current evidence standard dose adrenaline (1mg) improved rates of survival to hospital admission and return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) but had no benefit in means of survival to discharge or neurologic outcomes.
What about Amiodarone and Lidocaine?
Kudenchuck et al. now made the effort to look into the efficacy of amiodarone and lidocaine in the setting of OHCA. Used according to the ACLS guidelines 2016 amidarone is given after the third shock applied when treating a shockable rhythm. Two rather small controlled trials have shown so far that using amidarone actually does increase the likelihood of ROSC and the chance to arrive at a hospital alive. It's impact on survival to hospital discharge and neurologic outcome though remains uncertain.
In this randomized, double-blind trial, the investigators compared parenteral amiodarone, lidocaine and saline placebo in adult, non-traumatic, OHCA. They ended up with 3026 patients meeting inclusion criteria and which were randomly assigned to receive amiodarone, lidocaine or saline placebo for treatment. They finally found that neither amiodarone nor lidocaine improved rate of survival to discharge or neurologic outcome significantly. There were also no differences in these outcomes between amiodarone and lidocaine. Across these trial groups also in-hospital care like frequency of coronary catheterisation, therapeutic hypothermia and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments did not really differ, making a bias due to treatments after admission unlikely.
- This study was not able to show any benefit of amiodarone or lidocaine in the the setting of OHCA in terms of survival to hospital discharge and neurologic outcome
- Amiodarone seems to improve the likelihood of ROSC and survival to hospital admission (similar to adrenaline)
- As there are no other options, I believe amiodarone should remain part of the standard treatment for shockable rhythms in OHCA
- Lidocaine can be safely removed from CPR sets as there is no benefit of over amiodarone
N Engl J Med 2016;374:1711-22
Resuscitation, June 2014, Vol 85, Issue 6, p 732-740
New ACLS Guidelines 2015, The Changes
The discussion on the so called lactic acidosis and its causes has become increasingly interesting over the last couple of years as several biochemical explanations have been challenged. A big confusion persists on the various relationships between lactate, lactic acid and metabolic acidosis.
Most clinicians continue to refer to the classical understanding of impaired tissue oxygenation causing increased lactate production, impaired lactate clearance and therefore resultant metabolic acidosis. Just recently we had a discussion on our ward round on this topic when I was presented the most recent article of UpToDate online on the causes of lactic acidosis. The authors state that 'Lactic acidosis is the most common cause of metabolic acidosis in hospitalised patients' and that 'Lactic acidosis occurs when lactate production exceeds lactate clearance. The increase in lactate production is usually caused by impaired tissue oxygenation...'... finally suggesting that lactate is no good!
These statements support the classical understanding that:
- Hyperlactatemia is caused by tissue hypoxemia, and
- This in turn then leads to a metabolic acidosis called lactic acidosis
This biochemical understanding has persisted for decades but there are some good reasons to strongly challenge this classical aspect on the 'bad' lactate. Lactate turns out to be by far more complex in its characteristics and functions, so I decided to try and make a short but comprehensive overview on this molecule.
What is lactate?
Lactate is a small organic molecule with the chemical formula CH3CH(OH)CO2H and structurally looks like on the image to the left. It is produced in the cytoplasm of human cells largely by anaerobic glycolysis by the conversion of pyruvate to lactate by LDH. This chemical reaction normally results in a blood lactate to pyruvate ratio of about 10:1. And while lactate is produced, NAD+ also is incurred and this actually can accept protons itself, so does not result in acidosis itself.
Lactate arises from the production of energy by consuming glycogen and glucose.