The inhaled anesthetic nitrous oxide is used for sedation in the coronary care unit and has been advocated as an antihypertensive agent in patients after a cardiac operation. To delineate the hemodynamic effects of nitrous oxide after cardiac surgery, we studied 11 patients with a mean age of 63 years who had undergone isolated coronary artery bypass grafting. All patients had major coronary artery disease and normal preoperative hemodynamic function. When patients were in stable condition in the intensive care unit, hemodynamic measurements were made at an inspired oxygen concentration of 40% with progressive doses of nitrous oxide (0, 10, 20, 40, and 60%). Measured and calculated hemodynamic data were compared using analysis of variance. Nitrous oxide caused significant decreases in mean arterial pressure in a dose-related fashion; pressure fell 6 mm Hg at 10% nitrous oxide and 11 mm Hg at 60% nitrous oxide (6 and 13% decreases). These changes were not associated with significant alteration in pulmonary artery pressure or cardiac index. Left ventricular stroke work index decreased significantly with the administration of nitrous oxide. We conclude that, in patients with normal hemodynamic and ventricular function, the administration of nitrous oxide for its sedative and antihypertensive effects is safe in the postoperative period and may be useful, especially in patients who are candidates for early extubation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine