Prostacyclin and acetylcholine as screening agents for acute pulmonary vasodilator responsiveness in primary pulmonary hypertension.
Epoprostenol sodium (prostacyclin) administered intravenously is considered the standard for assessing the ability of the pulmonary circulation to vasodilate. At present, epoprostenol sodium is an investigational drug that has limited availability. In contrast, acetylcholine, also a pulmonary vasodilator, is readily available. Therefore, we assessed the feasibility of using acetylcholine as an alternative to prostacyclin in testing for the capacity of the pulmonary vasculature to vasodilate. Twenty-three patients with primary pulmonary hypertension (mean pulmonary arterial pressure, 58.5 +/- 13.4 mm Hg) received incremental infusions of prostacyclin and acetylcholine to predetermined maximal infusion rates as part of a battery of vasodilator agents administered according to standard protocols (mean, 5.4 +/- 1.2 agents/patient; range, 3-8 agents/patient); the administration of the different agents was timed to avoid synergistic effects. Of all the agents tested, prostacyclin and acetylcholine were most consistently effective in evoking acute pulmonary vasodilation, and both seemed to distinguish patients capable of manifesting acute pulmonary vasodilation from those who were not. However, at maximal doses set by protocol, prostacyclin generally elicited a greater vasodilator response than acetylcholine. The difference in magnitude of response may have been due to use of prescribed dosages of acetylcholine that were submaximal. In other respects, the two agents were similar; both were equally well-tolerated, and side effects were mild and resolved rapidly when the vasodilator infusions were stopped. We conclude that in the majority of patients with primary pulmonary hypertension, acetylcholine appears to be an effective and available substitute for prostacyclin in screening for pulmonary vasodilator responsiveness.
- Copyright © 1990 by American Heart Association