Anticholinergic medications such as atropine or glycopyrrolate have long been used in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to eliminate parasympathetically mediated dysrhythmias. However, such agents increase heart rate and myocardial workload and may increase risk of cardiac adverse events. What is needed is an intervention that is parasympatholytic without substantially increasing myocardial workload. In this study, a low dose of atropine was compared with placebo in ECT with attention to heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac rhythm, myocardial workload, and parasympathetic function. The dose of atropine that was used effectively blocked vagal tone with only a small and probably not clinically significant rise in myocardial workload for only a few minutes after the ECT seizure.
- Electroconvulsive therapy