Acute positive inotropic intervention: the phosphodiesterase inhibitors

Am Heart J. 1991 Jun;121(6 Pt 1):1871-5. doi: 10.1016/0002-8703(91)90078-v.


Phosphodiesterase inhibitors that are selective for cAMP-specific cardiac and vascular PDE III comprise a new group of agents for the treatment of heart failure, which at present are limited to clinical shortterm intravenous use and research uses only. Although both intravenous amrinone and milrinone are FDA approved, only amrinone is available for general clinical use. Selective phosphodiesterase inhibition produces beneficial actions of positive inotropy and peripheral vasodilation that result from increased cardiac and vascular muscle concentrations of intracellular cAMP and ionic calcium. In addition, a positive lusitropic action (enhancement of cardiac relaxation) has been observed. Neither beta-adrenergic agonist activity nor inhibition of the sodium-potassium ATPase is produced by these agents. The magnitude of hemodynamic improvement generally exceeds that of the cardiac glycosides and is comparable with that of intravenous catecholamines such as dobutamine. The different pharmacodynamic profile of the PDE inhibitors is additive to the effects of cardiac glycosides, complementary and synergistic to the actions of catecholamines, and has been shown to have favorable effects on coronary hemodynamics. As a result there is continued enthusiasm for the short-term intravenous use of amrinone and potentially milrinone in the setting of acute heart failure resulting from systolic dysfunction (after myocardial infarction, open heart surgery, or infectious or toxic myocarditis), heart failure resulting from right ventricular systolic dysfunction, and when patients with severe heart failure await cardiac transplantation. Initiation of treatment with an intravenous bolus followed by a maintenance infusion provides prompt increases in stroke volume and cardiac output and simultaneous reductions in right and left ventricular filling pressures and systemic vascular resistance.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Amrinone / adverse effects
  • Amrinone / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cardiac Output, Low / drug therapy
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Amrinone