The Correct Dopamine Dose and Use in ACLS

Correct dopamine dose

What is Dopamine in ACLS?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that acts as a neuromodulator, inducing nerve cells to release the chemical transmitters that cause muscle contractions and speed up heart rate. When it is released from nerve terminals in response to stimuli such as pain or hunger, it decreases the activity of certain neurons and increases activity of other neurons.

In Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Dopamine is a drug used to treat a variety of conditions that affect the way blood flows through the body. Below are some examples of how it functions, and how doctors use Dopamine to treat cardiac patients-including administration methods and doses used.

RELATED: Epinephrine Use in ACLS

Vial of Dopamine
5 and 10ml Vials of Dopamine

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What are the Functions of Dopamine in ACLS?

Dopamine is usually a secondary chemical in the body, but when it becomes necessary, doctors can this drug to save lives. It is commonly used for:

  • Treating low blood pressure
  • The blood isn’t flowing properly to vital organs.
  • Certain cases of septic shock
  • If the heart isn’t pumping out enough blood

In ACLS, Dopamine is administered as a second-line drug for symptomatic bradycardia (after atropine), septic shock (but used with caution in certain cases), and hypotension with symptoms of shock.

RELATED: Hypotension Following Cardiac Arrest – How is it Treated?

What Are the Cautions and Contraindications of Dopamine in ACLS?

Dopamine has been associated with a number of side effects including tachyarrhythmias and excessive vasoconstriction. It should be used with caution in patients who are suffering from cardiogenic shock with associated congestive heart failure symptoms.

Hypovolemia should be corrected with volume replacement before starting dopamine therapy.

Dose and Administration of Dopamine in ACLS:

  • Administer fluid resuscitation to correct hypovolemia before giving dopamine.
  • Use cardiac and BP monitoring.
  • Do not mix with sodium bicarbonate.
  • Although the most common infusion rate has been 2 to 20 mcg/kg per minute, 5–20 mcg/kg/min is the latest (as of 2020) recommended dopamine dose in ACLS according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
  • Titrate to achieve the desired blood pressure.

RELATED: The Complete ACLS Drug Dosages Chart for 2022

Want to Learn More About Dopamine Doses and ACLS Pharmacology?

You can read more about the most current AHA recommendations for drugs and drug doses used in ACLS, such as Dopamine, Adenosine, Magnesium and more, plus different methods of administration. Get a head start by downloading a FREE ACLS Algorithms Course Pack!

If it’s time for you to certify or recertify in ACLS, the ACLS Certification Course can get you certified today! Go to and get started right away.

RELATED: The Use of Magnesium in Cardiac Arrest for ACLS Providers

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