An intensive care unit (ICU), also known as an intensive therapy unit or intensive treatment unit (ITU) or critical care unit (CCU), is a special department of a hospital or health care facility that provides intensive treatment medicine.
Intensive care units cater to patients with severe and life-threatening illnesses and injuries, which require constant, close monitoring and support from specialist equipment and medications in order to ensure normal bodily functions. They are staffed by highly trained doctors and nurses who specialize in caring for critically ill patients. ICUs are also distinguished from normal hospital wards by a higher staff-to-patient ratio and access to advanced medical resources and equipment that is not routinely available elsewhere. Common conditions that are treated within ICUs include acute or adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), trauma, multiple organ failure and sepsis.
Patients may be transferred directly to an intensive care unit from an emergency department if required, or from a ward if they rapidly deteriorate, or immediately after surgery if the surgery is very invasive and the patient is at high risk of complications.
A coronary care unit (CCU) or cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) is a hospital ward specialized in the care of patients with heart attacks, unstable angina, cardiac dysrhythmia and (in practice) various other cardiac conditions that require continuous monitoring and treatment.
The main feature of coronary care is the availability of telemetry or the continuous monitoring of the cardiac rhythm by electrocardiography. This allows early intervention with medication, cardioversion or defibrillation, improving the prognosis. As arrhythmias are relatively common in this group, patients with myocardial infarction or unstable angina are routinely admitted to the coronary care unit. For other indications, such as atrial fibrillation, a specific indication is generally necessary, while for others, such as heart block, coronary care unit admission is standard.
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