Background: Sepsis accounts for 10% of intensive care unit admissions and significant healthcare costs. Although the mortality rate from sepsis has been decreasing with better critical care, early identification of septic patients, and prompt interventions, the mortality rate remains 20%-30%. Method: Review of the English-language literature. Results: Norepinephrine is the first-line vasopressor in shock and is associated with a lower mortality rate as well as fewer adverse effects. Dopamine has similar actions but is associated with significantly more tachydysrhythmias and should be reserved for patients with bradycardia. Epinephrine and vasopressin are appropriate second-line vasopressors and may enable use of lower doses of norepinephrine while improving hemodynamics. Inotropes may be added in patients with cardiac dysfunction. Conclusion: Appropriate treatment of sepsis includes prompt identification, early antimicrobial drug therapy, appropriate fluid resuscitation, and initiation of vasopressors in the presence of continued septic shock. Further research needs to be done to better understand the ideal timing of the addition of a second agent and the optimal combinations of vasopressors for individual patients.
- vasoactive agents