Cardiovascular effects of ephedrine, caffeine and yohimbine measured by thoracic electrical bioimpedance in obese women

Clin Physiol. 1998 Jan;18(1):69-76. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2281.1998.00075.x.


Low caloric diet is a commonly accepted treatment in obesity. However, owing to moderate results, a pharmacological support has been proposed. As some efficacious drugs activate overall sympathetic activity, they might modify functions of the cardiovascular system. Three groups of subjects were studied: (1) nine obese women receiving only a standard hypocaloric diet; (2) nine obese women receiving a standard hypocaloric diet and ephedrine (2 x 25 mg) with caffeine (2 x 200 mg); (3) nine obese women receiving a standard hypocaloric diet and ephedrine (2 x 25 mg) with caffeine (2 x 200 mg) and yohimbine (2 x 5 mg). The cardiovascular state was evaluated by thoracic electrical bioimpedance, automatic sphygmomanometry and continuous ECG recording. In each patient, the haemodynamic study was performed twice: at rest, i.e. before treatment; and after 10 days of treatment. On the same days in each patient, the haemodynamic tests were performed during physical exercises (handgrip stress and cycloergometer exercise). Caffeine and ephedrine had no haemodynamic effect in resting patients. These two drugs led to an increase in ejection fraction during cycloergometer exercise. Addition of yohimbine increased diastolic pressure and heart rate but decreased ejection fraction and stroke index during rest. We also observed that addition of yohimbine decreased ejection fraction during the handgrip and cycloergometer exercise and increased cardiac load during dynamic exercise. Pharmacological supplement of ephedrine and caffeine to a low caloric diet modified the cardiovascular system weakly, but the addition of yohimbine to this regimen attenuated cardiac performance during rest and handgrip and increased cardiac work during dynamic exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / pharmacology*
  • Adult
  • Appetite Depressants / pharmacology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Cardiography, Impedance*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Ephedrine / pharmacology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects*
  • Hemodynamics / physiology
  • Humans
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Yohimbine / pharmacology*


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Appetite Depressants
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Yohimbine
  • Caffeine
  • Ephedrine