We have studied the haemodynamic effects of i.v. milrinone, a new phosphodiesterase inhibitor, in patients with low cardiac output after cardiac surgery. Thirty-five patients with a cardiac index (Cl) less than 2.5 litre min-1 m-2 and a pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP) greater than 8 mm Hg were given a loading dose of milrinone 50 micrograms kg-1 followed by an infusion at one of three rates: 0.375 micrograms kg-1 min-1, 0.5 micrograms kg-1 min-1 or 0.75 micrograms kg-1 min-1 for 12 h. After 1 h there were increases in Cl (35%) (P less than 0.001), heart rate (13%) (P less than 0.01) and stroke volume index (19%) (P less than 0.005). There were decreases in mean arterial pressure (12%) (P less than 0.01), systemic vascular resistance (35%) (P less than 0.001) and PCWP (24%) (P less than 0.05). Pulmonary vascular resistance was unchanged or reduced and left ventricular stroke work index was unchanged or increased. The haemodynamic improvements were sustained throughout the infusion period. Milrinone was tolerated well: three patients developed tachycardia greater than 125 beat min-1, one patient developed atrial fibrillation and one patient had a short run of atrial bigemini. We conclude that milrinone is a useful agent in the treatment of patients with a reduced cardiac output after cardiac surgery.
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