Pathophysiology of the Cardiovascular System and Neonatal Hypotension

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Abstract

Hypotension is common in low birth weight neonates and less common in term newborns and is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Determining an adequate blood pressure in neonates remains challenging for the neonatal nurse because of the lack of agreed-upon norms. Values for determining norms for blood pressure at varying gestational and postnatal ages are based on empirical data. Understanding cardiovascular pathophysiology, potential causes of hypotension, and assessment of adequate perfusion in the neonatal population is important and can assist the neonatal nurse in the evaluation of effective blood pressure. This article reviews cardiovascular pathophysiology as it relates to blood pressure and discusses potential causes of hypotension in the term and preterm neonate. Variation in management of hypotension across centers is discussed. Underlying causes and pathophysiology of hypotension in the neonate are described.

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