At least 25 percent of critically ill patients who receive mechanical ventilation in intensive care units (ICUs) develop muscular weakness severe enough to impair their quality of life. In a new study published in the journal CHEST® designed to investigate possible causes, researchers found that mechanically ventilated patients treated with vasopressor medications had a more than three-fold increase in the odds of developing ICU-associated weakness. These findings highlight the unintended adverse effects of treatment and suggest possible interventions or avoidance strategies.
Patients with shock, a life-threatening condition causing a decrease in blood flow to the body, often require treatment with vasopressor medications that raise the blood pressure and restore blood flow to vital organs.
“Survivorship from critical illness is improving; however, patients often inherit many burdens including severe persistent weakness. In order to work towards improving long-term outcomes of critical illness, it is imperative to first improve our understanding of why patients develop weakness, specifically whether it is solely due to the underlying illness or if the treatments provided during the course of critical illness also play a role,” explained lead investigator Krysta S. Wolfe, MD, of the University of Chicago, Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Chicago, IL, USA.