Introduction

Patients admitted to the Critical Care Unit are often experiencing life threatening effects of sepsis, trauma, intracranial hemorrhage, burns, major surgery, coronary artery bypass graft, multi-organ failure, etc. All of these conditions will alter circulatory equalibrium. Skilled nursing care in the critical care setting requires a full understanding of the forces affecting blood flow and perfusion. The complexity of this topic warrants periodic review.

Nursing interventions
in the critical care setting routinely include:

The next sections will describe the factors that influence the hemodynamic forces that move blood throughout the circulatory system. You may recall that the main factors are: peripheral resistance, venous return and cardiac output. The cardiac cycle will be used to illustrate the movement of blood through the heart. Various forms of direct and indirect monitoring of blood flow will be discussed. Finally, interpretation and application of data accumulated from assessment and monitoring will be explored.

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Hemodynamics are the forces which circulate blood through the body.
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