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indicationFor use in the prophylaxis and therapy of ventricular fibrillation. Also used in the treatment of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias, such as ventricular tachycardia, that have failed to respond to adequate doses of a first-line antiarrhythmic agent, such as lidocaine.
pharmacologyBretylium is a bromobenzyl quaternary ammonium compound which selectively accumulates in sympathetic ganglia and their postganglionic adrenergic neurons where it inhibits norepinephrine release by depressing adrenergic nerve terminal excitability. Bretylium also suppresses ventricular fibrillation and ventricular arrhythmias.
mechanism of actionBretylium inhibits norepinephrine release by depressing adrenergic nerve terminal excitability. The mechanisms of the antifibrillatory and antiarrhythmic actions of bretylium are not established. In efforts to define these mechanisms, the following electrophysiologic actions of bretylium have been demonstrated in animal experiments: increase in ventricular fibrillation threshold, increase in action potential duration and effective refractory period without changes in heart rate, little effect on the rate of rise or amplitude of the cardiac action potential (Phase 0) or in resting membrane potential (Phase 4) in normal myocardium, decrease in the disparity in action potential duration between normal and infarcted regions, and increase in impulse formation and spontaneous firing rate of pacemaker tissue as well as increase ventricular conduction velocity.
toxicityOral, mouse: LD50 = 400 mg/kg. In the presence of life-threatening arrhythmias, underdosing with bretylium probably presents a greater risk to the patient than potential overdosage. However, one case of accidental overdose has been reported in which a rapidly injected intravenous bolus of 30 mg/kg was given instead of an intended 10 mg/kg dose during an episode of ventricular tachycardia. Marked hypertension resulted, followed by protracted refractory hypotension. The patient expired 18 hours later in asystole, complicated by renal failure and aspiration pneumonitis. Bretylium serum levels were 8000 ng/mL.
biotransformationNo metabolites have been identified following administration in man and laboratory animals.
half lifeThe terminal half-life in four normal volunteers averaged 7.8±0.6 hours (range 6.9-8.1). During hemodialysis, this patient's arterial and venous bretylium concentrations declined rapidly, resulting in a half-life of 13 hours.
drug interactionsCisapride: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Clarithromycin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Erythromycin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arryhthmias
Gatifloxacin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Grepafloxacin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Levofloxacin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Mesoridazine: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Moxifloxacin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Ranolazine: Possible additive effect on QT prolongation
Telithromycin: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias
Thioridazine: Increased risk of cardiotoxicity and arrhythmias