UMEM Educational Pearls

Tachyarrhythmias in the setting of high-dose vasopressors due to septic shock are not uncommon. Aside from amiodarone, some providers may not know of alternative therapeutic options in the setting of septic shock. In addition, some may view the use of a beta-blocker as counter-intuitive or counter-productive in the setting of norepinephrine usage.

However, there have been multiple smaller studies evaluating using esmolol (and other short-acting beta-blockers) in the setting of tachycardia, septic shock and pressors. Outcomes regarding the theoretical benefits of beta-blockade in sepsis (i.e. decreased mortality/morbidity 2/2 decreased sympathetic innervation, inflammation, myocardial demand etc.) have been varied. However, esmolol has been demonstrated multiple times to be effective at reducing heart rate without significant adverse outcomes (i.e. no sig diff in mortality, refractory shock, or time on vasopressors).  



-most of the studies discuss “adequate resuscitation” prior to initiation of esmolol

-not studied in patients that also had significant cardiac dysfunction 

-be aware that esmolol gtts can be a lot of volume and pts can become volume overloaded if boarding in the ED for an extended period of time



Cocchi MN, Dargin J, Chase M, et al. Esmolol to treat the hemodynamic effects of septic shock: a randomized controlled trial. Shock. 2022;57(4):508-517.

Morelli A, Ertmer C, Westphal M, et al. Effect of heart rate control with esmolol on hemodynamic and clinical outcomes in patients with septic shock: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2013;310(16):1683.

Rehberg S, Joannidis M, Whitehouse T, Morelli A. Landiolol for managing atrial fibrillation in intensive care. European Heart Journal Supplements. 2018;20(suppl_A):A15-A18.

Zhang J, Chen C, Liu Y, Yang Y, Yang X, Yang J. Benefits of esmolol in adults with sepsis and septic shock: An updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine. 2022;101(27):e29820.