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Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)

Pronunciation: uh-DVANST KAR-dee-ak LAYF suh-PORT

Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) is a set of clinical interventions and guidelines for the urgent treatment of cardiac arrest, stroke, and other life-threatening cardiovascular emergencies. It goes beyond basic life support (BLS) and involves sophisticated cardiac monitoring, drug administration, and advanced airway management.

What is Advanced Cardiac Life Support?

ACLS encompasses a range of diagnostic and therapeutic interventions that healthcare professionals utilize to treat complex cardiac emergencies. It involves a coordinated team approach to resuscitation and post-cardiac arrest care.

Key Facts About ACLS:

  • Specifically tailored for healthcare professionals.
  • Requires training and certification, often renewed every two years.
  • Emphasizes the importance of early recognition and timely intervention.

When is ACLS required?

Situations requiring ACLS include:

  • Sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Ventricular fibrillation (VF) and ventricular tachycardia (VT) without a pulse.
  • Severe bradycardia or tachycardia.
  • Stroke.
  • Acute coronary syndromes, such as heart attacks.

What prompts the initiation of ACLS?

Triggers include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring displaying lethal rhythms.
  • Clinical assessment indicating cardiovascular compromise.
  • Evidence or suspicion of a life-threatening cardiac event.

How is the need for ACLS determined?

Assessment often involves:

  1. ECG monitoring: To identify and treat dangerous cardiac rhythms.
  2. Clinical examination: Assessing responsiveness, breathing, and pulse.
  3. Assessment of vital signs: Including blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and end-tidal CO2.

What are the common interventions in ACLS?

Interventions include:

  1. Cardioversion and defibrillation: For the treatment of life-threatening arrhythmias.
  2. Drug administration: Including epinephrine, amiodarone, and others specific to cardiac emergencies.
  3. Advanced airway management: Including intubation and supraglottic devices.
  4. Algorithm-based interventions: Following specific steps based on the patient’s clinical condition.