Changes in heart rate associated with nebulized racemic albuterol and levalbuterol in intensive care patients

Sum Lam, Julie Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


The effects of equipotent doses of racemic albuterol and levalbuterol on heart rate (HR) in intensive care patients with and without baseline tachycardia were studied. Patients were included if they were hemodynamically stable and required bronchodilator therapy every four hours; patients were excluded if they were maintained on a β-blocker. Four hours after the most recent bronchodilator treatment, each patient was randomized to receive at least two consecutive doses of albuterol 2.5 mg or levalbuterol 1.25 mg four hours apart via nebulization. HR was recorded at the end of the second dose and 5, 10, 15, 30, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 240 minutes after treatment. Twenty intensive care patients, including 10 with baseline tachycardia and 10 without baseline tachycardia, were enrolled. In patients with baseline tachycardia, the mean largest HR increase was 1.4 beats/min (1.3%) with albuterol and 2.0 beats/min (2.1%) with levalbuterol (both increases were not significant). In patients without baseline tachycardia, the mean largest HR increase was 4.4 beats/min (6.7%) with albuterol (p = 0.04) and 3.6 beats/min (5.0%) with levalbuterol (p = 0.03). Short-term use of nebulized albuterol and levalbuterol was associated with similar changes in HR in intensive care patients with or without baseline tachycardia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1971-1975
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Health-System Pharmacy
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003



  • Albuterol
  • Critical illness
  • Drug comparisons
  • Heart rate
  • Levalbuterol
  • Sympathomimetic agents
  • Tachycardia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Health Policy

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