Editor’s Choice-The cardiovascular implications of sedatives in the cardiac intensive care unit

Sammy Zakaria, Helaine J. Kwong, Jonathan E. Sevransky, Marlene S. Williams, Nisha Chandra-Strobos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Patients admitted to the cardiac intensive care unit frequently develop multi-organ system dysfunction associated with their cardiac disease. In many cases, invasive mechanical ventilation is required, which often necessitates sedation for patient-ventilator synchrony, reduction of work of breathing, and patient comfort. In this paper, we describe the use of common sedatives available in the endotracheally intubated critically ill patient and emphasize the clinical and cardiovascular effects. We review γ-aminobutyric acid agonists such as etomidate, benzodiazepines, and propofol, the centrally acting α2-agonist dexmedetomidine, and the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist ketamine. Additionally, we outline the use of opioids and their role in potentiating other sedatives. We note that some sedatives are associated with increased delirium rates, and emphasize that judicious strategies minimizing sedative use are associated with decreases in morbidity and mortality. We also discuss standardized sedation assessment scales and highlight the importance of sedation weaning. Finally, we offer recommendations for sedation use during therapeutic hypothermia, and discuss the use of adjuvant neuromuscular blocking agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-683
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • Sedation
  • benzodiazepines
  • cardiac critical care
  • dexmedetomidine
  • intensive care unit
  • ketamine
  • opioids
  • propofol
  • sedation assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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