The nursing care of the patient with dilated cardiomyopathy focuses on (1) improving right and left heart function, i.e., titrating vasoactive drugs to maintain acceptable cardiac index with minimum side effects (and/or monitoring the operation of a left ventricular assist device when left heart function is refractory to vasoactive drugs), (2) reducing cardiac filling pressures with diuretics, vasodilators, and/or restriction of dietary sodium, oral and IV fluids, (3) maintaining optimum oxygenation, (4) preventing complications associated with either the disease or treatment, and (5) assisting the patient/family to maintain hope during the often lengthy and crisis-filled wait for a donor heart. The critical care nurse is challenged, often for weeks or months at a time, by the complexity of this patient’s physical and emotional needs and functions in a collaborative role with the entire health team in an attempt to maintain both cardiovascular and psychological stability until a donor heart is available.

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