Vasopressors in Sepsis

  • Julian Arias Ortiz
  • Daniel De BackerEmail author


Septic shock is the most serious form of sepsis and requires rapid recognition and treatment. Early hemodynamic support of patients in septic shock is crucial to prevent worsening organ dysfunction and failure. If hypotension is severe or if it persists despite initial fluid administration, the use of vasopressors is indicated. Profound hypotension worsens organ hypoperfusion in septic shock, and it represents an independent risk of death; it should thus be corrected as soon as possible. Vasopressor agents are used to counteract the sepsis-induced decrease in vascular tone with the aim of restoring tissue perfusion pressure. In this context achieving a mean systemic arterial pressure of 65–70 mmHg is a good initial goal, while different target levels should be considered taking into account individual variabilities. Each vasopressor has specific hemodynamic, metabolic, and immunomodulating effects. Adrenergic agonists are the first-line vasopressors, norepinephrine being the first-choice agent. In cases of “refractory” septic shock, adding another vasopressor with a different mechanism of action (non-adrenergic) could be considered. Vasopressin has ben shown to be a valuable alternative agent, while promizing data have been reported with the use of angiotensin.


Septic shock Sepsis Vasopressors Adrenergic agents Non-adrenergic agents Norepinephrine Epinephrine Vasopressin Angiotensin 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Calderon Guardia HospitalUniversidad de Costa RicaSan JoséCosta Rica
  2. 2.Department of Intensive Care, CHIREC HospitalsUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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