AHA Suggests New Strategies for Critical Cardiac Care in the
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Patients in cardiac intensive care units (CICUs) could benefit from the CICU health care team using a daily checklist to prevent infections and other common complications, according to a new AHA Scientific Statement, published today in the Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

“Patients admitted to cardiac intensive care often have serious, non-cardiovascular conditions, such as lung, kidney or liver disease, increasing their risk for complications,” said lead author. “Cardiac patients require increasingly complex care, and it is important for cardiovascular health care professionals to be experts in treating both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular conditions, and to understand ways to prevent complications in the CICU.”

Coordinated care for CICU patients includes a multi-disciplinary team of health care professionals across various specialties. The use of a daily, bedside checklist during patient rounds is encouraged to provide standardized approaches to preventative care.

The checklist includes strategies to optimize care and prevent complications related to:

- infections;
- pain management;
- ventilator complications;
- lack of mobilization (early mobilization is recommended for the majority of patients);
- gastrointestinal complications and proper nutrition;
medication use and errors;
- device use; and
- inclusion of the appropriate specialists for multidisciplinary care.

Hand hygiene is a mainstay of infection prevention, and CICUs should monitor for the presence of pathogens. Other preventative strategies include proper cleaning and stringent disinfection of equipment and the environment.

Monitoring and support devices used in the CICU are also a source of potential infection. These include catheters, mechanical circulatory support and ventilators. The longer that these devices are used, the higher the risk of infection for these patients. Invasive devices should be used for as short a time as possible to reduce the risk of associated infections. Special attention to intravenous access sites, catheter placement, and monitoring for infection can reduce device-related infections and complications.

In the case of mechanical ventilation, required by more than 25% of CICU patients, noninvasive, positive pressure ventilation (e.g. ventilation through a nasal mask, face mask or nasal plugs) should be considered when appropriate. Daily, spontaneous breathing trials are important to test the patient’s ability to breathe with minimal or no ventilator support. This allows early identification of patients who are ready to be taken off the ventilator.

The author added, “A central tenet to preventing CICU complications is to anticipate the need for invasive procedures and devices to avoid emergency procedures when possible. Rates of infections and other complications are higher in urgent procedures.”

Source: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/new-strategies-suggested-for-critical-heart-care-in-the-icu
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