Atropine

atropine

I rank Atropine 12 out of the 33 drugs we carry.

Aside from routine use in cardiac arrest, I use Atropine two or three times a year for patients with symptomatic bradycardia. I have no reason to believe it does any good at all in cardiac arrest, but as far as symptomatic bradycardia, as long as the patient is not in a third-degree block, I have had good success with Atropine.

Earlier in my career, I used Atropine a bit more, but that was before I knew that many people thanks to beta blockers had every day pulses in the high 40′s, low 50′s. I also used to more readily give it to a patient having an MI (heart attack), which can increase their oxygen demand and cause more damage. Now I only give it to patients having an MI if they are hypoperfusing. Ah, the learning curve.

The best bradycardia calls are for the patient passed out in the bathroom. You find them on the floor, cold and clammy, no pressure, pulse in the 20′s. Straining to go to the bathroom, their vagus nerve overpowered them, knocking their heart rate down and they lacked the ability to rebound on their own. We used to give a full amp of Atropine, now we give 0.5, and if that doesn’t work another 0.5 mg, etc. A couple times I have given the full 1 mg by mistake. Old dogs. Still the drug works well, the pulse picks up, the patient wakes up, the skin colors up and drys out and all is well in paramedic land. “You fixed them,” the doctor says to me in the ED. Music to my ears.

If I don’t have atropine in my kit, I can always pace the patient. Other options are Dopamine and an epi drip.

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We can also give Atropine to organophosphate poisionings, but I have never had one.

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Atropine (Atropine Sulfate)

Class: Antimuscarinic
Parasympathetic blocker
Anticholinergic

Action: Blocks acetylcholine (ACh) at muscarinic sites

Indication: Symptomatic bradyarrhythmias
Cholinergic poisonings
Asystole
Refractory bronchospasm

Contraindication: Relative contraindication wide complex bradycardia in the setting of acute ischemic chest pain

Side effects: Tachyarrhythmias
Exacerbation of Glaucoma
Precipitation of myocardial ischemia

Dose: Bradyarrhythmias – 0.5mg , may repeat every 3-5 minutes

Asystole – 1mg IV MR (May repeat) IV q 3-5 minutes (total max. dose 3mg)

Organophosphate poisonings – 1mg – 2mg; may repeat as needed

Route: IV push

Pedi dose: 0.02mg/kg IV

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Peter Canning

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Recent Posts
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  • Comments
    Survivor
    Streamline
    Well said. Given your attention to work/life balance mixed with genuine passion for the profession, it is no surprise that you have had such longevity in this career. I look forward to more posts in the future, whenever you get to them ;) Keep on keepin' on!
    2014-09-24 18:01:15
    McGee
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    TOTWTYTR: How can you say that ED staff are lazy or inefficient? You don't know what are you talking about mate!!! Big difference between EMT/Paramedics and ED staff...is you can give medication when you want and you don't need to wait for a medic to prescribe that drug.
    2014-09-23 08:52:46
    Vanessa
    PSVT-Adenosine
    I have PSVT and have been converted twice with Adenosine and it feels horrible, like an elephant sitting on our chest, I once went to the ER after 30 in V-tach, and a doctor said he learned this maneuver that usually works 90% of the time. Have the patient lay down and push down just…
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    Jon Kavanagh
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    Handover needs to be handover. The physical transfer of the patient needs to be a separate step. Introduce the nurse/team to the patient, give the relevant stuff, then move the patient over; even in a high acuity patient, unless he is ready to die without an immediate intervention by the physician, the 15-30 seconds spent…
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    Lisa Aulbert
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    2014-08-01 15:01:15

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