Current tools for assessing heart function and perfusion adequacy

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Many devices are currently available for measuring cardiac output and function. Understanding the utility of these devices requires an understanding of the determinants of cardiac output and cardiac function, and the use of these parameters in the management of critically ill patients. This review stresses the meaning of the physiological measures that are obtained with these devices and how these values can be used.

Recent findings

Evaluation of devices for haemodynamic monitoring can include just measurement of cardiac output, the potential to track spontaneous changes in cardiac output or changes produced by volume infusions or vasoactive drugs, or the ability to assess cardiac function. Each of these puts different demands on the need for accuracy, precision, and reliability of the devices, and thus devices must be evaluated based on the clinical need.

Summary

Evaluation of cardiac function is useful when first dealing with an unstable patient, but for ongoing management measurement of cardiac output itself is key and even more so the trend in relationship to the patient's overall condition. This evaluation would be greatly benefited by the addition of objective measures of tissue perfusion.

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