Objective: To describe our preliminary experience with Levosimendan, a new calcium-sensitizing agent in critically unwell infants and children with severe heart failure.
Design: Retrospective cohort analysis.
Setting: Pediatric intensive care unit.
Patients: Fifteen children aged 7 days to 18 yrs (median age 38 months) with severe myocardial dysfunction secondary to end-stage heart failure, or acute heart failure, who were inotrope-dependent (requiring at least one catecholamine).
Interventions: A single dose (bolus and intravenous infusion over 24-48 hrs) of Levosimendan was given under continuous hemodynamic monitoring in our intensive care unit. Eleven children received a single dose, three children received two doses, and one child received four doses. Echocardiographic assessments of ventricular function were made before and 3-5 days after Levosimendan infusion.
Measurements and main results: Heart rate, systolic pressure, diastolic pressure, mean blood pressure, and central venous pressure were unchanged during and after Levosimendan. Levosimendan allowed for discontinuation of catecholamines in ten patients and a dose reduction in three. The dose of dobutamine was reduced from 6.4 microg/kg/min pre-Levosimendan to 1.8 microg/kg/min on day 5 (p < .01). Ejection fraction for the group as a whole improved from 29.8% to 40.5% (p = .015); this did not increase significantly in patients with end-stage heart failure but increased by 63% in the children with acute heart failure.
Conclusions: Levosimendan can be safely administered to infants and children with severe heart failure. Levosimendan allowed for substantial reduction in catecholamine infusions in children with end-stage or acute heart failure and also produced an objective improvement in myocardial performance in children with acute heart failure.