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In patients with hepatic cirrhosis and ascites, LASIX therapy is best initiated in the hospital. In hepatic coma and in states of electrolyte depletion, therapy should not be instituted until the basic condition is improved. Sudden alterations of fluid and electrolyte balance in patients with cirrhosis may precipitate hepatic coma; therefore, strict observation is necessary during the period of diuresis. Supplemental potassium chloride and, if required, an aldosterone antagonist are helpful in preventing hypokalemia and metabolic alkalosis.
Cases of tinnitus and reversible or irreversible hearing impairment and deafness have been reported. Reports usually indicate that LASIX ototoxicity is associated with rapid injection, severe renal impairment, the use of higher than recommended doses, hypoproteinemia or concomitant therapy with aminoglycoside antibiotics, ethacrynic acid, or other ototoxic drugs. If the physician elects to use high dose parenteral therapy, controlled intravenous infusion is advisable (for adults, an infusion rate not exceeding 4 mg LASIX per minute has been used). (See PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS)
Excessive diuresis may cause dehydration and blood volume reduction with circulatory collapse and possibly vascular thrombosis and embolism, particularly in elderly patients. As with any effective diuretic, electrolyte depletion may occur during LASIX therapy, especially in patients receiving higher doses and a restricted salt intake. Hypokalemia may develop with LASIX, especially with brisk diuresis, inadequate oral electrolyte intake, when cirrhosis is present, or during concomitant use of corticosteroids, ACTH, licorice in large amounts, or prolonged use of laxatives. Digitalis therapy may exaggerate metabolic effects of hypokalemia, especially myocardial effects.
All patients receiving LASIX therapy should be observed for these signs or symptoms of fluid or electrolyte imbalance (hyponatremia, hypochloremic alkalosis, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia or hypocalcemia): dryness of mouth, thirst, weakness, lethargy, drowsiness, restlessness, muscle pains or cramps, muscular fatigue, hypotension, oliguria, tachycardia, arrhythmia, or gastrointestinal disturbances such as nausea and vomiting. Increases in blood glucose and alterations in glucose tolerance tests (with abnormalities of the fasting and 2-hour postprandial sugar) have been observed, and rarely, precipitation of diabetes mellitus has been reported.
In patients with severe symptoms of urinary retention (because of bladder emptying disorders, prostatic hyperplasia, urethral narrowing), the administration of furosemide can cause acute urinary retention related to increased production and retention of urine. Thus, these patients require careful monitoring, especially during the initial stages of treatment.
In patients at high risk for radiocontrast nephropathy LASIX can lead to a higher incidence of deterioration in renal function after receiving radiocontrast compared to high-risk patients who received only intravenous hydration prior to receiving radiocontrast.
In patients with hypoproteinemia (e.g., associated with nephrotic syndrome) the effect of LASIX may be weakened and its ototoxicity potentiated.
As with many other drugs, patients should be observed regularly for the possible occurrence of blood dyscrasias, liver or kidney damage, or other idiosyncratic reactions.
Serum electrolytes (particularly potassium), CO2, creatinine and BUN should be determined frequently during the first few months of LASIX therapy and periodically thereafter. Serum and urine electrolyte determinations are particularly important when the patient is vomiting profusely or receiving parenteral fluids. Abnormalities should be corrected or the drug temporarily withdrawn. Other medications may also influence serum electrolytes.
Reversible elevations of BUN may occur and are associated with dehydration, which should be avoided, particularly in patients with renal insufficiency.
LASIX may lower serum levels of calcium (rarely cases of tetany have been reported) and magnesium. Accordingly, serum levels of these electrolytes should be determined periodically.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Furosemide was tested for carcinogenicity by oral administration in one strain of mice and one strain of rats. A small but significantly increased incidence of mammary gland carcinomas occurred in female mice at a dose 17.5 times the maximum human dose of 600 mg. There were marginal increases in uncommon tumors in male rats at a dose of 15 mg/kg (slightly greater than the maximum human dose) but not at 30 mg/kg.
Furosemide was devoid of mutagenic activity in various strains of Salmonella typhimurium when tested in the presence or absence of an in vitro metabolic activation system, and questionably positive for gene mutation in mouse lymphoma cells in the presence of rat liver S9 at the highest dose tested. Furosemide did not induce sister chromatid exchange in human cells in vitro, but other studies on chromosomal aberrations in human cells in vitro gave conflicting results. In Chinese hamster cells it induced chromosomal damage but was questionably positive for sister chromatid exchange. Studies on the induction by furosemide of chromosomal aberrations in mice were inconclusive. The urine of rats treated with this drug did not induce gene conversion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
LASIX (furosemide) produced no impairment of fertility in male or female rats, at 100 mg/kg/day (the maximum effective diuretic dose in the rat and 8 times the maximal human dose of 600 mg/day).
Pregnancy Category C -Furosemide has been shown to cause unexplained maternal deaths and abortions in rabbits at 2, 4 and 8 times the maximal recommended human dose. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. LASIX should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
Treatment during pregnancy requires monitoring of fetal growth because of the potential for higher birth weights.
The effects of furosemide on embryonic and fetal development and on pregnant dams were studied in mice, rats and rabbits.
Furosemide caused unexplained maternal deaths and abortions in the rabbit at the lowest dose of 25 mg/kg (2 times the maximal recommended human dose of 600 mg/day). In another study, a dose of 50 mg/kg (4 times the maximal recommended human dose of 600 mg/day) also caused maternal deaths and abortions when administered to rabbits between Days 12 and 17 of gestation. In a third study, none of the pregnant rabbits survived a dose of 100 mg/kg. Data from the above studies indicate fetal lethality that can precede maternal deaths.
The results of the mouse study and one of the three rabbit studies also showed an increased incidence and severity of hydronephrosis (distention of the renal pelvis and, in some cases, of the ureters) in fetuses derived from the treated dams as compared with the incidence in fetuses from the control group.
Because it appears in breast milk, caution should be exercised when LASIX is administered to a nursing mother.
LASIX may inhibit lactation.
In premature infants LASIX may precipitate nephrocalcinosis/nephrolithiasis. Nephrocalcinosis/nephrolithiasis has also been observed in children under 4 years of age with no history of prematurity who have been treated chronically with LASIX. Monitor renal function, and renal ultrasonography should be considered, in pediatric patients receiving LASIX.
Controlled clinical studies of LASIX did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for the elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.
This drug is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection and it may be useful to monitor renal function. (See PRECAUTIONS: General and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.)This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 4/1/2016
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