The Intersection Between Heart Failure and Critical Care Cardiology: An International Perspective on Structure, Staffing, and Design Considerations


      The overall patient population in contemporary cardiac intensive care units (CICUs) has only increased with respect to patient acuity, complexity, and illness severity. The current population has more cardiac and noncardiac comorbidities, a higher prevalence of multiorgan injury, and consumes more critical care resources than previously. Patients with heart failure (HF) now occupy a large portion of contemporary tertiary or quaternary care CICU beds around the world. In this review, we discuss the core issues that relate to the care of critically ill patients with HF, including global perspectives on the organization, designation, and collaboration of CICUs regionally and across institutions, as well as unique models for provisioning care for patients with HF within a health care setting. The latter includes a discussion of traditional and emerging models, specialized HF units, the makeup and implementation of multidisciplinary team-based decision-making, and cardiac critical care admission and triage practices. This article illustrates the ways in which critically ill patients with HF have helped to shape contemporary CICUs throughout the world and explores how these very patients will similarly help to inform the future maturation of these specialized critical care units. Finally, we will critically examine broad, contemporary, international models of HF and cardiac critical care delivery in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia, and conclude with opportunities for the further investigation and generation of evidence for care delivery.

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