Use of aminophylline in the treatment of severe symptomatic bradycardia resistant to atropine

Cardiol Rev. 2004 Mar-Apr;12(2):65-8. doi: 10.1097/01.crd.0000096418.72821.fa.


Bradycardia and cardiac arrest are known complications of acute spinal cord injuries and are usually temporary. If the general measures of correcting hypoxia and using atropine fail, placement of a temporary followed by a permanent pacemaker is typically considered. We describe 2 very interesting cases of severe symptomatic bradycardia resistant to atropine, where we were able to obviate the use of pacemaker placement by the simple use of intravenous aminophylline. Aminophylline had been used in the past for treating resistant bradycardia in settings such as acute inferior wall myocardial infarction, cardiac transplantation, and so on, but has never been used in the setting of acute spinal cord injuries. Aminophylline probably works in this setting by increasing cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and activating the sympathoadrenal system.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aminophylline / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Atropine / therapeutic use*
  • Bradycardia / drug therapy*
  • Bradycardia / etiology
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Aminophylline
  • Atropine