Profound bradycardia with decreased PEEP

Susan R. Wilcox, Ankit Kansagra, Jeremy B. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


An athletic 21-year-old male was admitted to the surgical ICU after sustaining 2 stab wounds to his torso. He had an episode of left lung collapse early in his course, managed with suctioning and increased PEEP, to 15 cm H2O. He was bradycardic (heart rates 50-60 beats/min) throughout his ICU stay, but when the PEEP was lowered to 5 cm H2O in preparation for extubation, he developed sinus pauses and his heart rate dropped to 20 beats/min. After a thorough evaluation, the drop in his heart rate was determined to be due to increased vagal tone from increased cardiac output with the decreased PEEP. After premedication with glycopyrrolate, he was successfully extubated the following day, while his heart rate remained at his baseline of 50 beats/min. We review the physiologic mechanisms of bradycardia due to the removal of mechanical ventilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e138-e143
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013


  • Autonomic signaling
  • Bradycardia
  • Cardiovascular reflex
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Vasovagal reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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