Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery vol:91 issue:5 pages:723-31
The cardioprotective effect of the addition of the slow calcium-channel blocker nifedipine to cardioplegic solution was tested in two double-blind placebo controlled randomized studies. The first study included 24 patients undergoing aortic-coronary bypass grafting, and the second included 24 patients undergoing aortic valve replacement. Nifedipine at a dose of 200 micrograms/L or placebo was added to St. Thomas' Hospital cardioplegic solution. The following markers of ischemia were used: adenosine triphosphate and its catabolites, creatine phosphate and inorganic phosphate, determined in transmural left ventricular biopsy specimens taken before, at the end of, and after aortic cross-clamping; hemodynamic recovery 15 minutes after cessation of cardiopulmonary bypass; clinical outcome in terms of the incidence of arrhythmias, low cardiac output, positive inotropic support immediately after operation, and follow-up at 15 months. The main difference between the two studies was that myocardial temperature during cross-clamping remained constant at 14 degrees C in coronary bypass grafting but increased to 25 degrees C in valve operations despite the application of the same amounts of cardioplegic solutions. This lower temperature resulted in better preservation of high-energy phosphates in coronary bypass operations as compared to the placebo group having valve replacement operations. According to analysis of variance, a drug effect could be demonstrated only in the aortic valve replacement study: Accumulation of breakdown products of the adenine nucleotide pool was less in the nifedipine group than in the placebo group (p less than 0.05). Adenosine triphosphate decreased only to 84% in the nifedipine group and to 72% in the placebo group. Despite this adenosine triphosphate-sparing effect, weaning from cardiopulmonary bypass was more difficult in the nifedipine group. Left ventricular stroke work index 15 minutes after bypass was decreased to 72% of the prebypass value in the nifedipine group (t test, p less than 0.01) and only to 86% in the placebo group (p = NS). In contrast, after the patients were admitted to the intensive care unit, the incidence of low cardiac output tended to be lower in the nifedipine group than in the placebo group: 33% versus 58% (p = NS). In conclusion, ischemia-induced degradation of nucleotides as it occurs when myocardial cooling is inadequate can be prevented by the addition of nifedipine to the St. Thomas' Hospital cardioplegic solution. This effect, however, is not associated with an improved clinical outcome.