Dopamine and Epinephrine in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

Discover the roles of dopamine and epinephrine in ACLS, their dosages according to AHA guidelines, and when to use each in cardiac events.

Two key players in the realm of Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) are dopamine and epinephrine. Their individual roles, precise dosage, and appropriate usage can often be a challenge for medical professionals to remember. This post will provide an in-depth comparison of dopamine and epinephrine within the scope of ACLS and their recommended dosages according to the American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines.

Dopamine Dosage in ACLS

Dopamine is a potent vasopressor and inotropic agent used in the management of hypotension, shock, and heart failure. In the context of ACLS, dopamine is typically administered at a dose of 2-20 mcg/kg/min, depending on the patient’s condition and response to therapy. The higher doses (10-20 mcg/kg/min) are used for their vasoconstrictive effects in patients with severe hypotension and shock, while lower doses (2-10 mcg/kg/min) are utilized for their inotropic effects, augmenting cardiac output in heart failure patients.

RELATED: The Correct Dopamine Dose and Use in ACLS

Comparing Dopamine and Epinephrine in ACLS: Dosages, Uses, and AHA Guidelines Update

Epinephrine Dosage in ACLS

Epinephrine, on the other hand, is a life-saving drug used in various cardiac emergencies, including cardiac arrest and severe anaphylaxis. For cardiac arrest, the standard epinephrine dose in ACLS is 1 mg every 3-5 minutes during resuscitation. This potent vasopressor and inotropic agent increases coronary and cerebral blood flow, improving the chances of successful resuscitation.

RELATED: How to Calculate the Correct Dose of Epinephrine in ACLS

Dopamine vs Epinephrine: A Comparison

While both dopamine and epinephrine are critical in ACLS protocols, their usage varies depending on the specific cardiac event. For instance, in a patient experiencing cardiogenic shock secondary to severe heart failure, dopamine may be preferred for its inotropic properties, improving cardiac output. However, in a case of cardiac arrest, epinephrine remains the first-line drug, given its effectiveness in improving perfusion and increasing the chances of return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC).

ACLS Medication Cheat Sheet

An ACLS medication cheat sheet or drug dosage chart can be invaluable during critical situations. It summarizes the key drugs used in ACLS, their dosages, indications, and contraindications. This quick reference guide can aid in prompt and accurate drug administration during high-stakes, time-sensitive scenarios.

Medications used in ACLS. ACLS drug doses chart.

RELATED: The Complete ACLS Drug Dosages Chart for 2022

Recent AHA Updates on Dopamine and Epinephrine Usage

The American Heart Association periodically revises its ACLS guidelines based on the latest research and evidence. In the 2020 update, the AHA emphasized the importance of high-quality CPR and early defibrillation in cardiac arrest, while continuing to recommend epinephrine as a key drug. The role of dopamine was reiterated in managing patients with symptomatic bradycardia, particularly when atropine is ineffective, and in treating shock states.

Get Certified with Medical ProCerts

Boost your medical knowledge and skill set with Medical ProCerts, an accredited platform offering AHA-compliant online ACLS certifications. We provide up-to-date, comprehensive, and user-friendly courses to help you excel in ACLS protocols, including the correct use and dosage of life-saving drugs like dopamine and epinephrine.

As a bonus, each of our ACLS courses comes with a downloadable ACLS Algorithm course pack that includes the most recent ACLS drug doses chart. This valuable resource will serve as your quick reference guide during critical, time-sensitive situations.

Start your journey to becoming an ACLS champion today. Visit us at and download your ACLS Algorithm course pack at Join our community of medical professionals committed to providing top-tier cardiac care.

Attention Medical Professionals and Healthcare Administrators!

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