Hemodynamics is the study of blood flow (circulation) in the body, explaining the physical laws that govern the way that blood moves in the blood vessels. Hemodynamic monitoring is the observation of the various hemodynamic parameters, blood pressure and heart rate, over a period of time.
The goal of hemodynamic monitoring is the maintenance of adequate tissue perfusion, the medical term for the passage of blood through the vessels. Hemodynamic monitoring is generally used on critically ill patients as a means of correctly assessing the state of the cardiovascular system. In most hospitals, all patients admitted to an ICU are required to have basic hemodynamic monitoring, including ECG, heart rate, blood pressure, central venous pressure, temperature, blood gas analysis, and oxygen saturation. ECG monitoring allows for the establishment of cardiac rhythm and heart beat frequency. The central venous pressure monitors the pressure on the central veins that enter the right atrium of the heart.
Some critically ill patients may require a pulmonary artery catheter for hemodynamic monitoring. A PA catheter can be used in both diagnosis and therapy, including monitoring cardiac function during surgery. This invasive hemodynamic monitoring is used to detect, identify and treat potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions, including heart failure. Invasive hemodynamic monitoring generally takes place after the diagnosis of decreased cardiac output.