Low-dose ethanol alters the cardiovascular, metabolic, and respiratory compensation for severe blood loss

Kathleen H. McDonough, Mary E. Giaimo, Harvey I. Miller, Larry M. Gentilello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Compensation for hemorrhage and shock requires coordination of responses and sufficient physiologic reserve capacity of the cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and neuroendocrine systems. Intake of ethanol (EtOH) is known to degrade physiologic response to stress. The purpose of this study was to investigate how acute EtOH exposure changes responses to severe blood loss, shock, and resuscitation. Methods: Conscious male Duncan Hartley guinea pigs were given an intraperitoneal injection of either EtOH (1 g/kg) or an equal volume of water 30 minutes before controlled hemorrhage (60% blood volume), resuscitated after 30 minutes of hypovolemia with a lactated Ringer's solution volume equal to that of the shed blood volume, and observed for 24 hours. Hemodynamic (heart rate, arterial blood pressure), clinical laboratory (arterial blood gases, glucose, lactate, hematocrit), and metabolic gas exchange (oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide production) indicators of shock were monitored. Results. Of the animals that survived 24 hours, changes in arterial pH and lactate were significantly greater in the experiment group than in the control group. Mortality at 24 hours was 77% in the experiment group (EtOH-treated) and 42% (p = 0.39) in the control group (water-treated). Conclusion: Acute EtOH exposure, with blood EtOH concentration similar to legal intoxication levels, limits physiologic reserve during hemorrhagic shock and resuscitation. In survivors of shock and resuscitation, compensation is compromised and physiologic reserve is adversely affected by acute EtOH intake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-548
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • EtOH
  • Guinea pig
  • Hemorrhagic shock
  • Resuscitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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