Adrenergic amines are drugs that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (also called the adrenergic nervous system). These compounds are also called sympathomimetic drugs. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the autonomic nervous system that originates in the thoracic (chest) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spinal cord and regulates involuntary reactions to stress. It stimulates the heartbeat, sweating, breathing rate, and other stress-related body processes.
Adrenergic drugs have many uses. They are used to increase the output of the heart, to raise blood pressure, and to increase urine flow as part of the treatment of shock. Adrenergics are also used as heart stimulants. They may be given to a patient to reverse the drop in blood pressure that is sometimes caused by general anesthesia. They may be used to stop bleeding by causing the blood vessels to constrict, and to keep local anesthetics in a small area of the body by closing off the nearby blood vessels that would otherwise spread the anesthetic to other parts of the body. This ability to make blood vessels constrict makes adrenergics useful in reducing nasal stuffiness associated with colds and allergies. They may also be given to open the bronchi (the tubes leading to the lungs) for treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Samuel Uretsky PharmD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,