Critical care practices have evolved to rely more on physical assessments for monitoring cardiac output and evaluating fluid volume status because these assessments are less invasive and more convenient to use than is a pulmonary artery catheter. Despite this trend, level of consciousness, central venous pressure, urine output, heart rate, and blood pressure remain assessments that are slow to be changed, potentially misleading, and often manifested as late indications of decreased cardiac output. The hemodynamic optimization strategy called stroke volume optimization might provide a proactive guide for clinicians to optimize a patient’s status before late indications of a worsening condition occur. The evidence supporting use of the stroke volume optimization algorithm to treat hypovolemia is increasing. Many of the cardiac output monitor technologies today measure stroke volume, as well as the parameters that comprise stroke volume: preload, afterload, and contractility.

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