Continuous intravenous dobutamine is associated with an increased risk of death in patients with advanced heart failure: insights from the Flolan International Randomized Survival Trial (FIRST)

Am Heart J. 1999 Jul;138(1 Pt 1):78-86. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8703(99)70250-4.


Objective: To evaluate clinical characteristics and outcomes of patients with advanced heart failure receiving intravenous continuous dobutamine in the FIRST Trial (Flolan International Randomized Survival Trial).

Methods: Four hundred seventy-one patients with class IIIb to IV heart failure who were enrolled in the FIRST trial were included. Eighty patients treated with dobutamine at FIRST randomization were compared with 391 patients not treated with dobutamine at randomization. The occurrence of worsening heart failure, need for vasoactive medications, resuscitated cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, and total mortality were compared between the 2 groups.

Results: The dobutamine group had a higher occurrence of first event (85.3% vs 64. 5%; P =.0006) and a higher mortality rate (70.5% vs 37.1%; P =.0001) compared with the no dobutamine group. Intravenous continuous dobutamine was an independent risk factor for death after adjusting for baseline differences.

Conclusions: Dobutamine use at the time of randomization was associated with a higher 6-month mortality rate. This effect persisted after adjustment for baseline differences. This analysis challenges the concept that continuous intravenous dobutamine is beneficial to advanced heart failure patients with respect to survival.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cardiotonic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dobutamine / administration & dosage
  • Dobutamine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Dobutamine