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Diagnosis and treatment

We usually look after patients after or immediately before having surgery on their heart or lungs.

You might need surgery because you were born with a congenital heart disorder. Surgery could include coronary bypass operations, heart valve replacements or aortic reconstructions - and may be highly complex. If you're in the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU), you normally need multi-organ support.

Monitoring

Our team use a wide range of diagnostic, monitoring and treatment techniques to help care for you. They will monitor your

  • temperature
  • blood pressure
  • heart and respiratory rates
  • oxygen in your blood
  • levels such as of sodium and potassium
  • urine output
  • level of consciousness.

Our doctors and nurses can, and do, monitor more but their main priority is to support your organs if they are failing, and to get them functioning properly again.

Equipment

There are likely to be lots of machines around your bed. This is all equipment used to help your organs function, including

  • cardiovascular support to measure your heart's output
  • an external cardiac support device to help your heart beat properly
  • a respiratory ventilator to help you breathe
  • a kidney machine, to provide the kidney function when your organs aren't working properly.

Medication

Doctors and nurses will also give you drugs or medication to improve your condition. This could include

  • medication to support your heart's function
  • manipulation of your lungs to improving breathing
  • antibiotics and additional fluid
  • drugs to improve your general condition
  • providing adequate nutrition, often through a feeding tube
  • pain control, including giving sedatives or painkillers.

Wider support

Our cardiac ICU also works closely with other specialties in the hospital to provide your everyday care and keep you comfortable.

This includes

  • physiotherapy to help increase your mobility, breathing capability or muscle development
  • dietitians who work to make sure you're properly nourished
  • psychological support - we can put you in touch with the hospital chaplaincy team or support groups
  • pharmacy staff who attend regular ward rounds to ensure that medication is safe and appropriate
  • microbiology staff who deal with infection control.