Intensive Care Interventions Among Children With Toxicologic Exposures to Cardiovascular Medications

Document Type


Publication Date



Critical Care Medicine

Journal Title

Pediatric critical care medicine : a journal of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies


OBJECTIVES: Interventions requiring a PICU are rare in toxicologic exposures, but cardiovascular medications are high-risk exposures due to their hemodynamic effects. This study aimed to describe prevalence of and risk factors for PICU interventions among children exposed to cardiovascular medications. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of Toxicology Investigators Consortium Core Registry from January 2010 to March 2022. SETTING: International multicenter research network of 40 sites. PATIENTS: Patients 18 years old or younger with acute or acute-on-chronic toxicologic exposure to cardiovascular medications. Patients were excluded if exposed to noncardiovascular medications or if symptoms were documented as unlikely related to exposure. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Of 1,091 patients in the final analysis, 195 (17.9%) received PICU intervention. One hundred fifty-seven (14.4%) received intensive hemodynamic interventions and 602 (55.2%) received intervention in general. Children less than 2 years old were less likely to receive PICU intervention (odds ratio [OR], 0.42; 95% CI, 0.20-0.86). Exposures to alpha-2 agonists (OR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.11-3.72) and antiarrhythmics (OR, 4.26; 95% CI, 1.41-12.90) were associated with PICU intervention. In the sensitivity analysis removing atropine from the composite outcome PICU intervention, only exposures to calcium channel antagonists (OR, 2.12; 95% CI, 1.09-4.11) and antiarrhythmics (OR, 4.82; 95% CI, 1.57-14.81) were independently associated with PICU intervention. No independent association was identified between PICU intervention and gender, polypharmacy, intentionality or acuity of exposure, or the other medication classes studied. CONCLUSIONS: PICU interventions were uncommon but were associated with exposure to antiarrhythmic medications, calcium channel antagonists, and alpha-2 agonists. As demonstrated via sensitivity analysis, exact associations may depend on institutional definitions of PICU intervention. Children less than 2 years old are less likely to require PICU interventions. In equivocal cases, age and exposure to certain cardiovascular medication classes may be useful to guide appropriate disposition.