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Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure with Glucagon

H. JUERGEN NORD, M.D.; ARTURO L. FONTANES, M.D.; and JOHN F. WILLIAMS JR., MD., F.A.C.P.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to John F. Williams, Jr., M.D., Chief, Cardiology Division, Department of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Tex. 77550


Ann Intern Med. 1970;72(5):649-653. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-72-5-649
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The effectiveness of glucagon, 5 mg, subcutaneously, every 4 hr or 1 or 4 mg/hr by intravenous infusion, in the treatment of congestive heart failure was determined in 18 patients. Duration of therapy was 96 hr in 11 patients and 4 to 84 hr in the rest. Seven patients improved during glucagon administration whereas eight were unaffected and three became worse. The most favorable response occurred in patients suffering their first episode of heart failure. Only one of four patients with heart failure previously unresponsive to vigorous therapeutic measures improved. With the exception of the three patients in this latter group, all who did not improve with glucagon subsequently responded well to digitalis, diuretics, or both. Nausea and vomiting occurred in the majority and necessitated discontinuing glucagon treatment in five. Glucagon appears to have limited usefulness in the treatment of most patients with congestive heart failure.

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