Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 42, Issue 10, pp 1528–1534 | Cite as

Heart rate reduction with esmolol is associated with improved arterial elastance in patients with septic shock: a prospective observational study

  • A. MorelliEmail author
  • M. Singer
  • V. M. Ranieri
  • A. D’Egidio
  • L. Mascia
  • A. Orecchioni
  • F. Piscioneri
  • F. Guarracino
  • E. Greco
  • M. Peruzzi
  • G. Biondi-Zoccai
  • G. Frati
  • S. M. Romano



Ventricular–arterial (V–A) decoupling decreases myocardial efficiency and is exacerbated by tachycardia that increases static arterial elastance (Ea). We thus investigated the effects of heart rate (HR) reduction on Ea in septic shock patients using the beta-blocker esmolol. We hypothesized that esmolol improves Ea by positively affecting the tone of arterial vessels and their responsiveness to HR-related changes in stroke volume (SV).


After at least 24 h of hemodynamic optimization, 45 septic shock patients, with an HR ≥95 bpm and requiring norepinephrine to maintain mean arterial pressure (MAP) ≥65 mmHg, received a titrated esmolol infusion to maintain HR between 80 and 94 bpm. Ea was calculated as MAP/SV. All measurements, including data from right heart catheterization, echocardiography, arterial waveform analysis, and norepinephrine requirements, were obtained at baseline and at 4 h after commencing esmolol.


Esmolol reduced HR in all patients and this was associated with a decrease in Ea (2.19 ± 0.77 vs. 1.72 ± 0.52 mmHg l−1), arterial dP/dt max (1.08 ± 0.32 vs. 0.89 ± 0.29 mmHg ms−1), and a parallel increase in SV (48 ± 14 vs. 59 ± 18 ml), all p < 0.05. Cardiac output and ejection fraction remained unchanged, whereas norepinephrine requirements were reduced (0.7 ± 0.7 to 0.58 ± 0.5 µg kg−1 min−1, p < 0.05).


HR reduction with esmolol effectively improved Ea while allowing adequate systemic perfusion in patients with severe septic shock who remained tachycardic despite standard volume resuscitation. As Ea is a major determinant of V–A coupling, its reduction may contribute to improving cardiovascular efficiency in septic shock.


Tachycardia Septic shock Beta-adrenergic receptors Heart rate Arterial elastance Dicrotic notch Ventricular-arterial coupling 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

Andrea Morelli received honoraria for speaking at Baxter symposia. Mervyn Singer served as a consultant and received honoraria for speaking and chairing symposia for Baxter. Salvatore Mario Romano has a patent “Method and apparatus for measuring cardiac flow output” (USA Patent Number 6758822). No other disclosures were reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and ESICM 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Morelli
    • 1
    Email author
  • M. Singer
    • 2
  • V. M. Ranieri
    • 1
  • A. D’Egidio
    • 1
  • L. Mascia
    • 4
  • A. Orecchioni
    • 1
  • F. Piscioneri
    • 1
  • F. Guarracino
    • 3
  • E. Greco
    • 1
  • M. Peruzzi
    • 4
  • G. Biondi-Zoccai
    • 4
    • 5
  • G. Frati
    • 4
    • 5
  • S. M. Romano
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Nephrological, Anesthesiological and Geriatric SciencesUniversity of Rome, “La Sapienza”, Policlinico Umberto PrimoRomeItaly
  2. 2.Bloomsbury Institute of Intensive Care MedicineUniversity College London, Cruciform BuildingLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Cardiothoracic Anesthesia and Intensive Care MedicineUniversity Hospital of PisaPisaItaly
  4. 4.Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and BiotechnologiesUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza”LatinaItaly
  5. 5.Department of AngioCardioNeurologyIRCCS NeuromedPozzilliItaly
  6. 6.Unit of Internal Medicine and Cardiology, Department of Experimental and Clinical MedicineUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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