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Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit

Having a heart attack or other cardiac episode is scary, and patients and their families need reassurance that they are in the very best place for advanced care. At WakeMed, our Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) offers the highest level of care for patients who are in critical condition after experiencing a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, cardiac arrest or heart rhythm disturbances. The 20-bed specialty unit also cares for critically ill patients following procedures performed in WakeMed’s cardiac catheterization lab. The unit provides life-saving care for more than 1,800 patients a year, making it one of our busiest intensive care units.

Advanced care delivered by a highly specialized team of cardiac experts 

Patients admitted to CVICU often have come through our Emergency Department or transferred from another facility. Our nurses are updated on cardiac advances through ongoing clinical education classes, and many hold advanced certification in critical care nursing. Our 67-member staff is joined by a team of cardiologists, intensivists and specialists, including nephrologists, neurologists and palliative care practitioners. Patients also benefit from ongoing support and treatment from physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, clinician dieticians, case managers, clinical pharmacists, respiratory care providers, social workers and many more to help each patient achieve the highest level of recovery.

Our goal is to engage and educate patients and families from admission to discharge. We include family in patient teaching about their loved one’s condition, recovery and risk factor reduction to prevent readmission. During each shift change, we hold bedside reporting. Patients and families can be an active part of that discussion. The unit has open visitation so that a family member or support person can always participate in their loved one’s care.

Constant cardiac monitoring at the highest level 

Our CVICU is outfitted with the latest cardiac monitoring equipment that notifies staff of any discernable changes in a patient’s status. All patients in the unit are monitored for cardiac rhythm, vital signs and pulse oximetry. Based on their condition, some patients are also placed on specialty monitors or equipment that may include:

  • Intra-aortic balloon pump support, ventilators, pacemakers, cooling catheters
  • Arterial BP monitoring or non-invasive blood pressure monitoring
  • Pulmonary artery catheter monitoring
  • Cardiac output monitoring
  • Sedation monitoring

All patients are also monitored using eICU® services, where computers, cameras, microphones and software allow a critical care physician and eICU nurses to observe the patient and monitor any data trends, then confer with the on-site critical care nursing team.

Most patients stay in the unit for one to three days or until they are no longer considered in critical condition. Once they are stabilized, patients are transferred either to our Cardiovascular Intermediate Care Units or Medical Step Down area if the patient needs to remain on a ventilator. These units also have advanced monitoring capabilities.

While patients are in our CVICU, families and loved ones have access to our comfortable and spacious Critical Care & Surgery Waiting Room, located on the second floor, adjacent to all of our intensive care units. Open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, our CCSWR is a warm and supportive place to wait while your loved one is hospitalized. For families and friends who want overnight accommodations, WakeMed’s Heart Center Inn is located on the top floor of our heart center. With 38 comfortable and spacious rooms, our Heart Center Inn offers a place to relax and rest while your loved one recovers. The inn is reasonably priced, yet offers the amenities of a fine hotel.

We understand that patients who come to our unit are frightened and sometimes confused, so it is our goal to provide a warm, welcoming and inclusive environment.