Labetalol for the control of elevated blood pressure following coronary artery bypass grafting

Robert N. Sladen, Karen J. Klamerus, Melba W.G. Swafford, Donald S. Prough, Henry J. Mann, John B. Leslie, Joel S. Goldberg, Sidney Levitsky, J. Ernesto Molina, Stephen A. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In a multicenter study, the efficacy and safety of intravenous (IV) labetalol for the control of elevated blood pressure were studied in the intensive care unit (ICU) in 65 patients within 4 hours following coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). Patients with pre-existing ventricular dysfunction, bradycardia, bronchospastic disease, or postoperative complications were excluded. All patients were monitored with a thermodilution pulmonary artery catheter. Entry criteria were a systolic blood pressure (SBP) greater than 140 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) greater than 90 mm Hg for at least five minutes. Intravenous labetalol was loaded incrementally (5, 10, 20, and 40 mg at 10-minute intervals) to a maximum cumulative dose of 75 mg, until either SBP decreased 10% or DBP decreased 10% and was less than 90 mm Hg. Responders were entered into a 6-hour maintenance period, and received 5 to 40 mg of IV labetalol every 10 minutes as needed for blood pressure control. Hemodynamic data and temperature were recorded at baseline, just before each dose of labetalol during the loading period, and at the end of the maintenance period. Alternative therapy was given in the case of nonresponse or adverse events. Intravenous labetalol successfully controlled post-CABG hypertension in 55 of 65 patients (85%); of these, 46 responded to 35 mg or less. Although 28 patients required no further labetalol in the maintenance period, in the others dosage varied from 5 to 400 mg. Reductions in SBP and DBP were associated with moderate reductions in pulse pressure (SBP-DBP) and heart rate (HR). Cardiac index decreased by 18.5%, with a 12.5% decrease in stroke index and 8.1 % decrease in HR. Systemic vascular resistance did not increase significantly. Four patients (6%) developed hypotension related to IV labetalol. There was one death due to perioperative myocardial infarction, which was unrelated to labetalol use. The mechanism of action of IV labetalol in controlling hypertension after CABG surgery seems to be moderate negative inotropy and chronotropy. Its α-blocking effects seem to be important in preventing reflex vasoconstriction. This is directly opposite to the primary vasodilator effect found when IV labetalol is used to control nonsurgical hypertension. Because of these actions, labetalol should be avoided or used with caution in patients with preoperative and postoperative cardiac dysfunction. In patients with normal left ventricular function, IV labetalol appears to be a safe, effective agent in controlling post-CABG hypertension, with the added potential benefit of enhanced myocardial oxygen balance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-221
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic Anesthesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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