Which medications in the drug class Cardiovascular agents are used in the treatment of Cocaine Toxicity?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, JD; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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Cardiovascular agents

Alkalinization may benefit cardiac conduction if a wide QRS is noted. Other treatment for cardiac arrest, dysrhythmias, or acute hypertension may also be required.

Sodium bicarbonate (Neut)

Possibly useful for alkalization of urine in patients with rhabdomyolysis. Appropriate for dysrhythmias from direct toxic effects of cocaine (ie, QRS greater than 100 ms due to sodium channel blockade).

Lidocaine (Anestacon, Dilocaine, Xylocaine, Zilactin-L, Dermaflex)

Class IB antidysrhythmic that increases electrical stimulation threshold of ventricle, suppresses automaticity, and slows conduction velocity through ischemic tissue. Indicated for cocaine-induced VF and VT.

Esmolol (Brevibloc)

Beta-blockers are generally contraindicated in cocaine toxicity. Some recommend to "save use" together with a vasodilator, only to manage life-threatening hypertension, tachycardia, and aortic dissection unresponsive to other therapeutic interventions. Short half-life of 8 min allows for titration to desired effect and quick discontinuation if needed.

NTG (Deponit, Nitrostat)

Used to treat acute hypertension and cardiac chest pain. Relaxes vascular smooth muscle by stimulating intracellular cyclic guanosine monophosphate production, decreasing BP. Selection of NTG or sodium nitroprusside based on clinician's preference.

Phentolamine (Regitine)

Alpha1- and alpha2-adrenergic blocking agent that blocks circulating epinephrine and norepinephrine action, reducing hypertension and coronary vasoconstriction due to catecholamine effects on alpha-receptors.

Nitroprusside (Nitropress)

Used to treat acute hypertension. Produces vasodilation and increases cardiac inotropic activity. At high dosages, may exacerbate myocardial ischemia by increasing heart rate. Selection of NTG or sodium nitroprusside based on clinician's preference.

Norepinephrine (Levophed)

Stimulates alpha and beta1-adrenergic receptors with alpha-adrenergic predominance which increases cardiac muscle contractility, heart rate, and vasoconstriction; results are increased systemic BP and coronary blood flow. As a vasopressor, useful in hypotension not responsive to IV fluids alone.


Useful for achieving return of spontaneous circulation, but may not improve the chances of recovery with a good neurologic outcome. Increases coronary perfusion pressure.


May improve vital organ blood flow, cerebral oxygen delivery, ability to be resuscitated, and neurologic recovery.

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