Does my patient on chronic prednisone need stress doses of corticosteroids perioperatively?

There are wide-ranging opinions on stress doses of corticosteroids (CS) in patients on chronic prednisone undergoing surgery, largely due to lack of adequately-sized randomized controlled studies.  Most experts seem to agree, however, that the age-old practice of routinely administering very high doses of hydrocortisone (eg, 100 mg IV every 8 hours) with prolonged taper postoperatively is excessive. 1-7

Couple of questions to consider before you decide on stress doses of CS for your patient with CS-induced (not primary) adrenal suppression. First, is your patient likely to have a suppressed adrenal function? And if so, what type of surgery is he or she about to undergo?

As for the first question, keep in mind that exogenous CS suppress the production of corticotropin (ACTH) and can induce adrenal atrophy that may persist for up to 12 months, an effect that’s dependent not only on their dose but also on their duration and may vary greatly from person to person. 2,4

Generally, a daily prednisone dose of 5 mg or less —irrespective of the duration— is considered unlikely to cause adrenal suppression (unless it’s given at bed time) and therefore should not require stress doses of CS.1 Conversely, clinical features of Cushing’s syndrome and prednisone doses of 20 mg or more daily for more than 3 weeks are likely to be associated with hyphothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis suppression.  Due to possible delay in the recovery of the HPA axis after discontinuation of exogenous CS, you should review not only your patient’s current dose and duration of CS but his or her regimen during the previous year. 2

When in doubt, particularly in patients receiving intermediate doses (eg, between 5 to 20 mg of prednisone daily) or duration of CS, testing the HPA axis (eg, by cosyntropin stimulation) has been suggested by some with the caveats that it’s a grade 2C (weak recommendation, low quality evidence) recommendation,7 and the results may not necessarily predict clinical adrenal insufficiency or be available before surgery. 4  

Once you have decided that your patient may be at risk of adrenal insufficiency during the perioperative period, the stress dose and duration of CS will likely depend on the type of surgery: “minor” (eg, inguinal herniorrhaphy); “moderate” (eg, total joint replacement, peripheral vascular surgery) and “major” (eg, pancreatoduodenectomy, cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass). 

A popular online resource suggests the following:4

  • Minor surgery or local anesthesia: Give only the morning maintenance dose of CS without any stress doses
  • Moderate surgery: Give the usual morning dose plus hydrocortisone IV 50 mg (or equivalent) just before the procedure followed by 25 mg IV every 8 hours for 24 hours, followed by the maintenance regimen
  • Major surgery: Give the usual morning dose plus hydrocortisone 100 mg IV before anesthesia induction, followed by 50 mg IV every 8 hours for 24 hours, tapering the dose by half each day to maintenance.

Alternatively, for minor and moderate procedures, other authors suggest usual daily dose plus hydrocortisone 50 mg IV before incision, followed by hydrocortisone 25 mg IV every 8 h for 24 h, then the usual daily dose.1  Yet others have recommended giving IV hydrocortisone 25 mg/day for 1 day for minor surgeries, 50-75 mg/day x 1-2 days for moderate surgeries, and 100-150 mg/day for 2-3 days for major surgeries.2-4 Whichever regimen you chose, make sure to give the morning maintenance dose.  

Why is less aggressive stress dosing being favored in these patients? Several reasons come to mind, including:

  •  In normal subjects, endogenous cortisol production rarely rises above 150-200 mg /day even in response to major surgery 2-4   
  • High doses of CS, particularly with long taper, may unnecessarily subject patients to adverse effects, such as hyperglycemia and poor wound healing 3,4
  • Published reports of CS-treated patients having complications such as hypotension or even death in the postoperative period have generally only implicated, not proven, adrenal insufficiency as a cause. 1-4

 

Bonus pearl: Did you know that the hypotension of secondary adrenal insufficiency in patients treated with CS is not caused by mineralocorticoid deficiency? Instead, it may in part be related to the action of CS in enhancing vascular responsiveness to vasopressors (eg, catecholamines).2 

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References

  1. Liu MM, Reidy AB, Saatee S, et al. Perioperative steroid management: Approaches based on current evidence. Anesthesiology 2017;127:166-72. https://anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org/article.aspx?articleid=2626031
  2. Axelrod L. Perioperative management of patients treated with glucocorticoids. Endocrinol Metab Clin N Am 2003;32:367-83. http://pggweb.com/doc/glucocorticoids.pdf
  3. Salem M, Tainsh RE Jr, Bromberg J, et al. Perioperative glucocorticoid coverage. A reassessment 42 years after emergence of a problem. Ann Surg 1997;219:416-25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1243159/
  4. Shaw M. When is perioperative ‘steroid coverage’ necessary? Clev Clin J Med 2002;69:9-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11811727
  5. Urmson K. Stress dose steroids: the dogma persists. Can J Anesthe 2019;September 23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31549340
  6. Wax DB. One size fits all for stress-dose steroids. Anesthesiology 208;128:674-87. https://anesthesiology.pubs.asahq.org/article.aspx?articleid=2672525
  7. Hamrahian AH, Roman S, Milan S. The management of the surgical patient taking glucocorticoids. Uptodate 2019, accessed October 21, 2019. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/the-management-of-the-surgical-patient-taking-glucocorticoids
Does my patient on chronic prednisone need stress doses of corticosteroids perioperatively?

Why is my patient with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hypovolemia hypertensive?

Although we may expect patients with DKA to present with hypotension due to hypovolemia, many patients with DKA may actually be hypertensive. This finding is particularly intriguing because hyperinsulinemia, not insulinopenia as found in DKA, has been associated with hypertension. 1,2

Though not proven, potential explanations for hypertension in DKA include elevated serum levels of catecholamines, pro-inflammatory cytokines, renin, angiotension II and aldosterone.3-5 Hyperosmolality may also lead to the release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) which increases blood pressure via V2 receptors.  Another possibility is that the high insulin levels associated with the treatment of DKA suppress the catecholamine-stimulated production of vasodilative eicosanoids (eg, prostaglandins) by adipose tissue. 1 It’s possible that in any given patient, 1 or more of these mechanisms may be enough to override the potential hypotensive effect of insulin deficiency in DKA.

We should note that reports of frequent hypertension in DKA have primarily involved pediatric patients. A 2011 study found that 82% of pediatric patients with DKA had hypertension during the first 6 hours of admission with no patient having hypotension.3  

On the other extreme, refractory hypotension without obvious cause (eg, sepsis, acute adrenal insufficiency, cardiogenic causes) has also been reported in DKA.5Because insulin inhibits the production of vasodilative prostaglandins (eg, PGI2 and PGE2), severe insulin deficiency in DKA can also contribute to hypotension along with volume depletion. 

Potential genetic polymorphism in the synthesis and metabolism of prostaglandins may at least partially explain the varied blood pressure response and whether a patient with DKA presents with hypertension or hypotension. 5  

The author would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Lloyd Axelrod MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, to this post.

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References

  1. Axelrod L. Insulin, prostaglandins, and the pathogenesis of hypertension. Diabetes 1991;40:1223-1227. https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/40/10/1223 
  2. Chatzipantelli K, Head C, Megerman J, et al. The relationship between plasma insulin level, prostaglandin productin by adipose tissue and blood pressure in normal rats and rats with diabetes mellitus and diabetic ketoacidosis. Metabolism 1996;45:691-98. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S002604959690133X 
  3. Deeter KH, Roberts JS, Bradford H, et al. Hypertension despite dehydration during severe pediatric diabetic ketoacidosis. Pediatr Diabetes 2011;12:295-301. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1399-5448.2010.00695.x 
  4. Ferris JB, O’Hare JA, Kelleher CM, et al. Diabetic control and the renin-angiotensin system, catecholamines and blood pressure. Hypertension 1985 7(Suppl II):II-58-II-63. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/01.HYP.7.6_Pt_2.II58  
  5. Singh D, Cantu M, Marx MHM, et al. Diabetic ketoacidosis and fluid refractory hypotension. Clin Pediatrics 2016;55:182-84. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0009922815584549?journalCode=cpja 

 

Why is my patient with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and hypovolemia hypertensive?

Of the commonly used drugs for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which ones may be the least likely to cause hypotension in my hospitalized patient with borderline systolic blood pressures?

5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (RIs) (eg, finasteride and dutasteride) are less likely to cause hypotension than alpha-1-adrenergic antagonists (AAs) (eg, tamsulosin, doxazocin, terazocin, and alfuzocin), the other major class of drugs commonly used for treatment of signs and symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).

A Cochrane systematic review found that finasteride, an RI, has a lower risk of postural hypotension compared to doxazosin, an AA. 1 In fact, there’s no solid evidence that RIs exacerbate hypotension on their own. 2,3 Unfortunately, RIs take longer to achieve benefit because they work by reducing prostate size over time, while AAs work much faster by reducing prostate smooth muscle tone.4 So, while it’s reasonable to choose an RI over an AA in our patient with soft pressures, it’s also reasonable to expect it won’t work quite as well during his hospital stay and you may still be forced to choose an AA.  

Among AAs, tamsulosin is the least likely to be associated with hypotension when compared to others in the same class (eg, doxazocin and terazocin) which are also sometimes used for treatment of hypertension. Thus, tamsulosin may be the best choice for patients at risk of  hypotension.5 However, even tamsulosin is not totally safe in this regard, especially in the first 4 weeks after starting or re-starting treatment when its risk of hospital admission for hypotension is about double that of RIs.6

Bonus pearl: Did you know that prazocin was the first promising selective AA investigated for BPH but likely because of its availability in generic form and the general notion at the time that medical therapy of BPH would not be widely accepted by urologists, larger randomized-controlled trials were never pursued!7

References

  1. Tacklind J, Fink HA, MacDonald R, et al. Finasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010 Oct 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20927745
  2. Finasteride prescribing information: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2010/020180s037lbl.pdf
  3. Dutasteride prescribing information: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2008/021319s014lbl.pdf
  4. Rigatti P, Brausi M, Scarpa RM, et al. A comparison of the efficacy and tolerability of tamsulosin and finasteride in patients with lower urinary tract symptoms suggestive of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases 2003; 6:315–323. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14663474
  5. Tewari A and Narayan P. Alpha-adrenergic blocking drugs in the management of benign prostatic hyperplasia: interactions with antihypertensive therapy. Urology 1999 Mar;53:14-20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10094096
  6. Bird ST, Delaney JAC, Brophy JM, et al. Tamsulosin treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia and risk of severe hypotension in men aged 40-85 years in the United States: risk window analyses using between and within patient methodology. BMJ 2013; 347 :f6320. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24192967
  7. Lepor H. Alpha blockers for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Rev Urol 2007;9:181-90.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2213889/

Contributed by Nick Bodnar, Harvard medical student, Boston, MA.

 

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Of the commonly used drugs for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which ones may be the least likely to cause hypotension in my hospitalized patient with borderline systolic blood pressures?

Should I use a hemoglobin level of 7 or 8 g/dL as a threshold for blood transfusion in my hospitalized patient?

Unlike its previous 2012 guidelines that recommended overlapping hemoglobin level triggers of 7 g/dL to 8 g/dL for most inpatients, the 2016 guidelines from AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks) assigns 2 distinct tiers of hemoglobin transfusion triggers: 7 g/DL for hemodynamically stable adults, including those in intensive care units, and 8 g/dL for patients undergoing cardiac or orthopedic surgery or with preexisting cardiovascular disease1 , often defined as history of coronary artery disease, angina, myocardial infarction, stroke, congestive heart failure, or peripheral vascular disease2,3.  

These recommendations are based on an analysis of over 30 randomized trials, taking into account the potential risks of withholding transfusions, including 30-day mortality, and myocardial infarction. The new 2-tier recommendation specifically excludes those with acute coronary syndrome, severe thrombocytopenia (patients treated for hematological or oncological reasons who are at risk of bleeding), and chronic transfusion-dependent anemia.

The guidelines also emphasize that good clinical practice dictates considering not only the hemoglobin level but the overall clinical context when considering blood transfusion in patients. These factors include alternative therapies to transfusion, rate of decline in hemoglobin level, intravascular volume status, dyspnea, exercise tolerance, light-headedness, chest pain considered of cardiac origin, hypotension, tachycardia unresponsive to fluid challenge, and patient preferences.

References

  1. Carson JL, Guyatt G, Heddle NW. Clinical practice guidelines from the AABB red blood cell transfusion thresholds and storage. JAMA. Doi:10.1001/jama.2016.9185. Published online October 12, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27732721
  2. Carson JL, Duff A, Poses RM, et al. Effect of anemia and cardiovascular disease on surgical mortality and morbidity. Lancet 1996;348:1055-60. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8874456
  3. Carson JL, Siever F, Cook DR, et al. Liberal versus restrictive blood transfusion strategy: 3-year survial and cause of death results from the FOCUS randomized controlled trial. Lancet 2015;385:1183-1189. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25499165
Should I use a hemoglobin level of 7 or 8 g/dL as a threshold for blood transfusion in my hospitalized patient?

How can I be sure that my patient truly has orthostatic hypotension (OH)?

OH is a sustained reduction of systolic blood pressure (SBP) of ≥ 20 mm Hg or diastolic BP ≥ 10 mm Hg within 3 min of standing or head-up tilt to at least 60° on a tilt table (1); symptoms are not part of the criteria. In patients with supine hypertension, a reduction in SBP of 30 mm Hg has been suggested (1).  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends BP measurements when patient is supine for 5 min, and after standing for 1 and 3 min (2).  In some patients symptomatic OH occurs beyond 3 minutes of standing (1). Preference for mercury column sphygmomanometer due to its reliability and simplicity, with arm at the level of the heart has been stressed (3). 

A 2017 report involving over 11,000 middle-aged participants (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study) has challenged the notion of waiting 3 minutes before OH is measured (4).  This prospective study  found a significant association between participant-reported history of dizziness on standing and OH but only at 1st measurement (mean of 28.0 seconds after standing), not at subsequent ones over a 2 minute period. It was concluded that measuring OH during the first minute “not only makes a lot of sense” but it’s more appropriate “because it’s more predictive of future falls”.

Keep in mind that OH is more common and more severe during mornings and after meals, and is exacerbated by large meals, meals high in carbohydrate, and alcohol intake (1).

For a relate pearl go to : https://pearls4peers.com/2018/02/08/is-checking-for-orthostatic-hypotension-less-than-1-minute-after-standing-clinically-useful

References

  1. Freeman R, Wieling W, Axelrod FB, et al. Consensus statement on the definition of orthostatic hypotension, neurally mediated syncope and the postural tachycardia syndrome. Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical 2011;161: 46–48. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21431947
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/steadi/pdf/measuring_orthostatic_blood_pressure-a.pdf , accessed Dec 13, 2015.
  3. Naschitz J, Rosner I. Orthostatic hypotension: framework of the syndrome . Postgrad Med J 2007; 83:568-574. http://pmj.bmj.com/content/83/983/568
  4. Juraschek SP, Daya N, Rawlings AM, et al. Comparison of early versus late orthostatic hypotension assessment times in middle-age adults. JAMA Intern Med 2017;1177:1316-1323. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5661881/

 

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How can I be sure that my patient truly has orthostatic hypotension (OH)?

Can syncope be related to acute pulmonary embolism in the absence of hemodynamic instability or right ventricular failure?

Although we often think of syncope caused by acute pulmonary embolism (APE) in the setting of submassive or massive APE and right ventricular failure or shock (1,2), less massive APE may potentially cause syncope as well by triggering a vaso-vagal reflex (3).

For sure, a significant association between submassive or massive APE and syncope has been reported (1,2).  More specifically, patients with syncope and APE may be more likely to have systolic blood pressure <90 mmHg, right ventricular dilation and right ventricular hypokinesis (1). Another study reported a higher rate of central embolism (83% vs 43%), right ventricular dysfunction (91% vs 68%) and troponin positivity (80% vs 39%), but not 30 day mortality (2).

In contrast, 1 study found that patients with syncope as a presenting symptom of APE did not show a more serious clinical picture (e.g. shock) than those without syncope (3), while another found EKG signs of acute right ventricle overload in only 25% of patients with syncope (4).  

So while massive APEs may be associated with syncope, they don’t seem to be a prerequisite for this condition.

References

1.  Omar HR, Mirsaeidi M, Weinstock MB, et al. Syncope on presentation is a surrogate for submassive and massive acute pulmonary embolism. Am J Emerg Med 2018;36:297-300. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29146419

2. Altinsoy B, Erboy F, Tanriverdi H, et al. Syncope as a presentation of acute pulmonary embolism. Ther Clin Risk Manag 2016;12:1023-28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4930221/

3. Castelli R, Tarsia P, Tantardini G et al. Syncope in patients with pulmonary embolism: comparison between patients with syncope as the presenting symptom of pulmonary embolism and patients with pulmonary embolism without syncope. Vascular Medicine 2003;8:257-261. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1191/1358863x03vm510oa

4. Miniati M, Cenci, Monti S, et al. Clinical presentation of acute pulmonary embolism: survey of 800 cases. PloS One 2012;7:e30891.

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Can syncope be related to acute pulmonary embolism in the absence of hemodynamic instability or right ventricular failure?