At ITSSH, Cardiac care units, or CCUs (which some hospitals call acute coronary care units, cardiac intensive care units, or critical coronary care units), are specialized hospital wards dedicated to caring for people with serious or acute heart problems.
Originally designed to care for people with acute heart attacks, CCUs now also routinely provide critical care to people with acute coronary syndrome, life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias, severe heart failure, and people recovering from cardiac surgery.
At ITSSH, CCU is staffed around the clock by nurses, technicians, and physicians specially trained to take care of people with serious cardiac conditions. Typically, the staff-to-patient ratio is much higher in a CCU than in a typical hospital unit, so that each patient can be monitored closely and constantly.
CCUs also make specialized equipment for cardiac monitoring, testing and treatment readily available. All patients admitted to the CCU are placed on a cardiac monitor, which records and analyzes each beat of their heart rhythm, and alerts the staff immediately if serious arrhythmias occur. Some patients also will have temporary catheters placed into a wrist artery to continuously monitor their blood pressure, or into their pulmonary artery to monitor the pressures within their hearts. Some people who have severe heart failure may receive an intraaortic balloon pump (IABP), or a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), to help their hearts to pump blood. Sometimes cardiac conditions can lead to serious breathing problems, so ventilators are also available.
People in a CCU will frequently need specialized testing, and commonly used tests often can be performed right in the CCU itself, including bloodwork, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, and chest X-rays.
CCUs can be considered to be a more specialized subset of the more generalized intensive care unit, or ICU, which is mainly used to treat critically ill patients with conditions other than (or in addition to) heart disease.
People are treated in a CCU if they have a serious, acute or unstable cardiac condition that requires minute-to-minute monitoring, or that requires specialized cardiovascular therapy.
The most common reason for being admitted to a CCU is an acute heart attack, or another form of acute coronary syndrome. People with these conditions often require ongoing therapy that may need to be adjusted frequently, and they are prone to rapid, unexpected changes in their condition. The close round-the-clock monitoring they receive in a CCU allows these changes to be detected immediately, so that treatment can be adjusted right away.
Similarly, people recovering from coronary bypass surgery often spend a few days in the CCU.
People who have decompensated heart failure are often treated in a CCU, especially if they are particularly ill or unstable, or if they need a balloon pump or LVAD to stabilize their cardiovascular condition. People may also be admitted to a CCU for close monitoring if they have stabilized but severe heart failure, and they are awaiting immanent cardiac transplantation.