OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationship between cardiac performance (as measured by heart rate and ectopy) and unrestricted vs restricted visiting hours in the coronary care unit. DESIGN: Patients were from two coronary care units. Group A had unrestricted visiting hours, and group B had restricted visiting hours. Heart rate and ectopy were measured three times both in patients with unrestricted visiting hours and in those with restricted visiting hours: (1) before visitors arrived, (2) 5 minutes after visitors arrived and (3) 1 to 5 minutes after the visitors left. A total of 25 visits were analyzed. FINDINGS: There were no significant differences in rates of premature ventricular contractions and premature atrial contractions between the two groups. Patients with unrestricted visiting hours had a significantly lower heart rate after visits than patients with restricted visits. CONCLUSION: Consideration should be given to development of unrestricted visiting policies that promote the continuing presence and natural support of the family and significant others for patients in coronary care units.

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