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Stimulants

Definition

Stimulants are drugs that increase your heart rate, breathing rate, and brain function. Some stimulants affect only a specific organ, such as the heart, lungs, brain, or nervous system.

Epinephrine is a stimulant. It is given during cardiac arrest to make the heart beat.

Other times, stimulants can cause unwanted side effects. For example, pseudoephedrine found in some cold medicines can increase the heart rate.

Review Date: 
1/21/2013
Reviewed By: 
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.