Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 47, Issue 7, pp 449–462 | Cite as

Clinical Relevance of Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics in Cardiac Critical Care Patients

Review Article

Abstract

Pharmacokinetics is a discipline aimed at predicting the best dosage and dosing regimen for each single drug in order to ensure and maintain therapeutically effective concentrations at the action sites. In cardiac critical care patients, various pathophysiological conditions may significantly alter the pharmacokinetic behaviour of drugs. Gastrointestinal drug absorption may be erratic and unpredictable in the early postoperative period, and so patients may be unresponsive to oral therapy; thus the intravenous route should be preferred for life-saving drugs whenever feasible. Variations in the extracellular fluid content as a response to the trauma of surgery and the fluid load or significant drug loss through thoracic drainages may significantly lower plasma concentrations of extracellularly distributed hydrophilic antimicrobials (β-lactams, aminoglycosides and glycopeptides). Drug metabolism may be altered by the systemic inflammatory response and/or multiple organ failure and/or drug-drug pharmacokinetic interactions that can potentially occur during polytherapy, especially in immunosuppressed cardiac transplant patients. Instability of renal function may promote significant changes in body fluid concentrations of renally eliminated drugs, even in a brief period of hours. Finally, the application of extracorporeal circulation by means of cardiopulmonary bypass may significantly alter the disposition of several drugs during the operation because of acute haemodilution, hypoalbuminaemia, hypothermia and/or adsorption to the bypass equipment. Accordingly, to avoid either overexposure and the consequent increased risk of toxicity or underexposure and the consequent risk of therapeutic failure in critically ill cardiac patients, the dosing regimens of several drugs are expected to be significantly different from those suggested for clinically stable patients. Additionally, therapeutic drug monitoring may be helpful in the management of drug therapy and should be routinely used to guide individualized dose adjustments for (i) immunosuppressants whenever cytochrome P450 3A4 isoenzyme inhibitors (e.g. macrolide antibacterials, azole antifungals) or inducers (e.g. rifampicin [rifampin]) are added to or withdrawn from the regimen; and (ii) glycopeptide and aminoglycoside antibacterials whenever haemodynamically active agents (such as dopamine, dobutamine and furosemide [frusemide]) are added to or withdrawn from the regimen, and also whenever significant changes of haemodynamics and/or of renal function occur.

Keywords

Remifentanil Glycopeptide Sirolimus Enflurane Cefamandole 

Notes

Acknowledgements

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. Federico Pea has been a consultant for Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis, and has been on the speakers’ bureau for Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, Abbott, Bayer, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck Sharp & Dohme. Mario Furlanut has received grant support from GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis. Federica Pavan has no potential conflicts of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, Department of Experimental and Clinical Pathology and Medicine, Medical SchoolUniversity of UdineUdineItaly

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