Heart pump medication, also called inotropic therapy, stimulates an injured or weakened heart to pump harder. The primary purpose of this drug is to increase the force of the heart muscle's contractions. It may also speed up the heart's rhythm.
Inotropic therapy is used in end-stage heart failure to help relieve and control heart failure symptoms so that you are better able to perform your daily activities. These medications are only used when other drugs no longer control heart failure symptoms.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened or stiffened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
Heart pump drugs are sometimes given short term to patients awaiting a heart transplant. The risk of death rises if they are taken long term.
Heart pump medications include:
How Should I Take This Heart Pump Drugs?
Inotropic therapy is first administered in the hospital where you can be closely monitored.
Dobutamine and milrinone are IV medications administered by an infusion pump into your vein to help ensure the dose is accurate. These drugs may be ordered by your doctor to be given continuously or periodically over six to 72 hours, one or more times per week.
Even if you feel well, do not discontinue your inotropic therapy medication from your intravenous catheter line or from your infusion pump without consulting your doctor. If you are discharged from the hospital with an inotropic medication, a home health nurse will provide specific directions on how to care for your intravenous site, catheter and infusion pump.
What Are the Side Effects of Inotropic Therapy?
Notify your doctor or nurse right away the first time any of these side effects occur:
Increased heart rate
High blood pressure
Shortness of breath
Faintness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
Mild leg cramps or tingling sensation
If any of the following side effects occur, STOP THE INFUSION and contact your doctor right away:
Irregular, fast heartbeat (more than 120 beats per minute)
Pain or swelling at infusion site
Fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher
Pump malfunction (then call the pharmacy immediately for a replacement)
Should I Avoid Certain Food or Medicine During Inotropic Therapy?
Yes, while taking heart pump medication, make sure you:
Carefully follow the low-sodium (low-salt) diet and daily exercise program advised by your doctor.
Avoid alcohol, which increases the side effects of this drug.