What Is the Definition of Cardiotonic?

Cardiotonic drugs are substances that increase the contracting mechanism within the heart, thereby causing more blood to be pumped throughout the circulatory system. These drugs usually affect intracellular calcium levels in the heart muscle to achieve the desired increase in muscle action. There are roughly 10 general medications listed as cardiotonics.

Some drugs of this nature, such as epinephrine, assist the heart by stabilizing blood pressure. Epinephrine has a broad use with regard to asthma, bronchitis and glaucoma along with heart issues. Dopamine treats shock and acute heart failure. Dobutamine corrects heart failure and low blood volume in addition to chronic heart failure.

Serious side effects of cardiotonics include hypertension, hyperthyroidism, cardiomyopathy, atherosclerosis, hypersensitivity, ventricular fibrillation, severe kidney disease and severe liver problems. Less serious side effects of these drugs include headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, sweating, painful urination and skin rashes.

Certain drugs used to treat thyroid difficulties may contraindicate cardiotonics. More than 15 drugs may affect the absorption of cardiotonics into the body, thereby reducing effectiveness. Nitrates, non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, beta-blockers, quinidine, opioid pain killers, tricyclic antidepressants, muscle relaxants and sedatives are known to interact with cardiotonic drugs. Application of all cardiotonics requires constant monitoring by medical professionals to gauge therapeutic responses.

People should seek the guidance of a medical professional with regards to taking any of the aforementioned medications.