J Am Heart Assoc. 2023 Aug;12(15):e029787. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.123.029787. Epub 2023 Jul 25.
Cardiogenic shock is characterized by tissue hypoxia caused by circulatory failure arising from inadequate cardiac output. In addition to treating the pathologic process causing impaired cardiac function, prompt hemodynamic support is essential to reduce the risk of developing multiorgan dysfunction and to preserve cellular metabolism. Pharmacologic therapy with the use of vasopressors and inotropes is a key component of this treatment strategy, improving perfusion by increasing cardiac output, altering systemic vascular resistance, or both, while allowing time and hemodynamic stability to treat the underlying disease process implicated in the development of cardiogenic shock. Despite the use of mechanical circulatory support recently garnering significant interest, pharmacologic hemodynamic support remains a cornerstone of cardiogenic shock management, with over 90% of patients receiving at least 1 vasoactive agent. This review aims to describe the pharmacology and hemodynamic effects of current pharmacotherapies and provide a practical approach to their use, while highlighting important future research directions.