Risk factors for dexmedetomidine-associated hemodynamic instability in noncardiac intensive care unit patients

Calvin J. Ice, Heather A. Personett, Erin N. Frazee, Ross A. Dierkhising, Rahul Kashyap, Richard A. Oeckler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The reported incidence of hypotension and bradycardia in patients receiving dexmedetomidine for sedation commonly exceeds 50%. In this study, we describe the incidence of, patient- and treatment-specific risk factors for, and clinical significance of dexmedetomidine-associated hemodynamic instability. METHODS: This retrospective cohort study was conducted in critically ill adults receiving dexmedetomidine for sedation at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, MN, during a 1-year period. The primary end point was hemodynamic instability: a composite of hypotension and/or bradycardia, defined as systolic blood pressure <80 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure <50 mm Hg, or heart rate <50 beats per minute during dexmedetomidine therapy. Cox proportional hazards models were constructed to determine hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the risk factors of hemodynamic instability. RESULTS: Hemodynamic instability occurred in 197 of the analyzed 300 patients receiving dexmedetomidine, resulting in a cumulative incidence of 71% at 24 hours via Kaplan-Meier estimation. In addition to dexmedetomidine, univariate analysis identified age, vasopressor use, low baseline arterial blood pressure, and concomitant sedatives as associated with increased risk of hemodynamic instability. Multivariable analysis demonstrated associations between age (HR, 1.23 per 10 years, 95% CI, 1.10-1.38) and low baseline blood pressure (HR, 2.42 at dexmedetomidine initiation, 95% CI, 1.68-3.49) and risk of hemodynamic instability. Variables such as concomitantly administered cardiac medications or sedative therapies and dexmedetomidine infusion rates >0.7 μg/kg/h were not found to be predictors of hemodynamic instability among the analyzed sample. CONCLUSIONS: Hemodynamic instability commonly occurs in critically ill adults receiving dexmedetomidine, with more than two thirds of this cohort experiencing hypotension and/or bradycardia within 24 hours of initiation. Increasing age and low baseline arterial blood pressure were associated with the development of hemodynamic instability. These findings suggest that clinicians should be aware of the potential risk of hemodynamic instability when using dexmedetomidine in patients with advanced age or low baseline arterial blood pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-469
Number of pages8
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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