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What Is a Diltiazem Drip?

An intravenous drip bag may be used to dilute the diltiazem to the correct dosage.
An diltiazem drip is used to continuously provide medication to control blood pressure.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2014
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A diltiazem drip slowly delivers medication to control a patient’s blood pressure. This method of drug delivery is typically used in hospitals, particularly in cardiac units, where patients may be unstable and could need medications to regulate their blood pressure. As the patient improves, it may be possible to transition to oral forms of this medication, and eventually to wean off it. The best option can depend on the specifics of the case and how well the patient responds to treatment.

In a drip, also known as an infusion, medication is mixed with a carrier solution like Ringer’s solution and allowed to slowly drip into the veins. It enters the body over the course of hours to maintain consistent levels of the drug, offering long-term control. The concentration of the medication and solution can be determined at the time of mixing, and an infusion pump controls the rate of release. This can allow for adjustments as the patient responds to raise or lower the amount of medication.

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Patients in crisis with high blood pressure associated with a rapid heart rate may need a diltiazem bolus, a rapid injection delivered over the course of several minutes. Often, dosage depends largely on weight. As a nurse or technician administers the medication, the patient’s response can be monitored. Once patients start to respond, the bolus can be stopped, to reduce the risk of complications caused by the medication. Later, the patient may transition to a diltiazem drip to maintain control of the blood pressure.

The use of a diltiazem drip may be recommended for a patient in care for a blood pressure or heart problem. This drug is a calcium channel blocker that works by lowering heart rate to reduce strain on the heart and lower blood pressure. Precise dosages can depend on the patient’s case, and frequent monitoring and checks are usually advised to assess the patient. If the diltiazem drip is successful, the patient’s blood pressure should remain stable and the heart rate should be consistent, without any abnormalities.

Critical care settings may require the delivery of a number of medications, like a diltiazem drip to control blood pressure. Patients typically receive an intravenous catheter, often in the arm, to provide access to the blood vessels. The catheter can have several ports to allow for bolus injections of medication along with a connection to a bag of intravenous solution. Bags should be clearly marked with information about their contents to avoid mixups and provide information about which drugs the patient is currently receiving.

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