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What is Levosimendan?

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox

Patients who are brought to a hospital with acutely decompensated heart failure may be given levosimendan as a part of their treatment. This drug is administered directly into the bloodstream so it can quickly travel to the heart. Once the medication reaches the heart, it strengthens a person’s heartbeat by increasing the heart’s sensitivity to the calcium that is present in the bloodstream.

When levosimendan is given to a patient, the heart has strong contractions. Patients who are suffering from heart failure experience abnormal contractions, making it impossible for the heart to pump blood through the body as usual. This medication takes effect quickly and tapers off over the course of a week. Treatment with this drug can greatly improve a patient’s chances for surviving acutely decompensated heart failure.

Doctor taking notes
Doctor taking notes

Drugs such as levosimendan are administered to make the body use the calcium it has more efficiently. Calcium is used by the body to regulate the contraction in a heartbeat. Normally, levels of calcium and magnesium, which relaxes muscles in the heart once they have contracted, are balanced. Increasing the actual level of calcium in the bloodstream could be dangerous for a patient suffering heart failure because it would disrupt what may be a delicate balance between calcium and magnesium.

Levosimendan is only given to patients hospitalized for heart failure. The effects of the medication need to be carefully monitored by healthcare professionals because there are risks associated with the use of this drug. Rapid heartbeat and a decrease in blood pressure are possible, so doctors watch patients carefully to make sure that heartbeat and blood pressure return to normal before releasing their patients. If a patient’s blood pressure or heartbeat drops too low during treatment, doctors can give them additional medication to compensate. Usually, patients are monitored for a number of days after they receive levosimendan, until the blood pressure starts to climb back towards its normal level.

The body is able to metabolize almost all of a dose of levosimendan. It usually takes between seven and ten days for the chemical to disappear from a person’s system and there is no way to speed this process up. After a few days, levels of the medication begin to taper off and blood pressure is able to rise. Doctors often give patients a few treatments with levosimendan, decreasing the amount given in each treatment as the patient begins to recover from their cardiac failure.

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      Doctor taking notes