We have measured the effect of a bolus dose of esmolol 80 mg i.v. on heart rate, and systolic (SAP), diastolic (DAP) and mean (MAP) arterial pressures during electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). We also assessed seizure duration using both the cuff method and two-lead EEG. We studied 20 patients in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-patient blocked randomized study. No patient was receiving psychotherapeutic drugs or had cardiovascular disease. Esmolol significantly reduced heart rate, SAP and MAP before the stimulus, and also significantly reduced the increases in these variables during the convulsion, compared with placebo. However, seizure duration was also significantly reduced, possibly making ECT less effective. The reduction in seizure duration was 5.83 s when monitored clinically and 9.9 s when measured by the EEG. Because of the reduction in seizure duration, routine administration of esmolol is not advisable because it may interfere with the efficacy of ECT, but administration of esmolol during ECT could be useful to reduce tachycardia and hypertension in high-risk patients.

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British Journal of Anaesthesia
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van den Broek, W., Leentjens, A. F., Kusuma, A., Bruijn, J., & Mulder, P. (1999). Low-dose esmolol bolus reduces seizure duration during electroconvulsive therapy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Anaesthesia. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/9226