Critical care clinicians must consider known expected circadian rhythms when interpreting fluctuations in patients' hemodynamic values. As noted in the case study, knowledge of circadian rhythmicity in cardiovascular variables may help clinicians anticipate hemodynamic changes and develop and evaluate chronobiologically sensitive interventions, including prescriptions for activity, modification of the timing of medications, and provision of protective interventions for patients with disrupted rhythms. Felver provides excellent guidelines for the systematic review of possible causes for overt changes in circadian patterns. This review highlights the need to evaluate (1) the effect of disease progression on temporal patterns, (2) the patient's underlying endogenous rhythms, (3) the zeitgebers that may entrain the patient's biological rhythms (e.g., light, social cues, and sleep-wake cycles), and (4) how the zeitgebers change in a critical care environment. The body of literature on the rhythmic fluctuation of cardiovascular variables in healthy, young subjects is extensive. During the past 10 years, research on the chronobiologic fluctuations of numerous physiological variables (cardiovascular, pulmonary, hematologic, and endocrine) in critical illness has increased. As information on the fluctuations in critically ill patients increases, critical care clinicians will be challenged to develop and evaluate a chronobiologically sensitive plan of care for these patients.

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