Heart failure is the single most common cause of hospitalization in people age 65 years and older. This chronic disease is characterized by acute decompensation that often requires hemodynamic monitoring with a pulmonary artery catheter (PAC). Patient care with a PAC usually requires bed rest, yet early mobility can shorten stays in the intensive care unit and improve physical functioning.

Mattioli et al studied the physiological and emotional impact of ambulation on adult patients with a PAC in the cardiac intensive care unit. They found the following:

  • PAC migration ranged from 1 to 5 cm but none required intervention.

  • Most patients experienced light exertion and minimal fatigue after the walk.

  • Improved feelings of physical and emotional well-being were reported.

The authors state that presence of a PAC should not preclude walking in patients with heart failure whose condition is stable. Protocols should include careful measurement and documentation of patients’...

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