Pharmacology Vasopressors #1


Which medical problem would the nurse expect the healthcare provider to prescribe dopamine as the medication treatment of choice?


  1. Thyroid storm episode
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because during a thyroid storm the blood pressure is elevated. Dopamine would further elevate the blood pressure so this is not an appropriate treatment for this condition.

  2. Malignant hypertension
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because malignant hypertension produces severely elevated blood pressure. Dopamine would only cause the condition to worsen so is not the appropriate treatment.

  3. Anaphylactic reaction
    • Rationale:

      This answer is not correct because during an anaphylactic reaction, the priority is providing bronchodilation due to airway constriction associated with anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is the most appropriate initial treatment to provide bronchodilation.

  4. Low cardiac output
    • Rationale:

      This answer is correct because low cardiac output is best treated with dopamine since its action increases blood pressure and cardiac output through a positive inotropic action. This increases blood flow throughout the body, and is especially effective in the kidneys.


Dopamine’s primary use is to help increase cardiac output, especially for clients with increasing kidney damage. Dopamine does this through increasing blood pressure and renal blood flow.


Learning Outcomes

Dopamine is prescribed by healthcare providers for treatment of low cardiac output because decreased blood pressure associated with low cardiac output will produce acute kidney failure. Sustained decreased cardiac output can precipitate end organ damage and eventual death. Close monitoring of the client during this time should occur to make sure cardiac output is increased with resultant increase in blood pressure, increased urinary output, and decreasing creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN).

Test Taking Tip

Key words or phrases in the stem of the question such as first, primary, early, initial, or best are important.

Video Rationale