If you or a loved one are a patient in one of Valley’s Critical Care Units, you may have questions about equipment used, treatments performed or other things you may experience in the unit. Here are answers to come common questions about critical care. 

General FAQs

What is “BiPAP?”

BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) is a machine used to assist breathing by delivering oxygen through a face mask.

What is a ventilator?

A ventilator, also called a respirator, is used to assist breathing by delivering oxygen directly into the lungs by means of a plastic breathing tube (endotracheal tube or a tracheostomy).

What is weaning?

Weaning is the process used to assist the patient to gradually come off the ventilator.

What is a monitor?

A monitor provides a continuous reading of the patient’s blood pressure, heart rate/rhythm, and oxygenation. Monitors are also located at the nurses’ station.

What are chest tubes?

Chest tubes are tubes placed in the chest cavity that help drain fluid that can accumulate. They are connected to a drainage container and will be removed when the drainage is minimal.

What is an Advance Directive?

An advance directive tells your doctor what kind of care you would like to have if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. For example, the directive would describe what kind of care you want if you have an illness that you are unlikely to recover from, or if you are permanently unconscious. Advance directive usually tells your doctor that you don’t want certain kinds of treatment. However, it can also say that you want a certain treatment, no matter how ill you are.

Cardiac Critical Care FAQs

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack, or myocardial infarction (MI), refers to damage to the heart muscle related to inadequate circulation, usually caused by a blockage in one of the heart (coronary) arteries.

What is an arrhythmia?

An arrhythmia is an abnormal rhythm. This may include extra beats, abnormally slow or fast heartbeats.

What is congestive heart failure?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is the inability of the heart to adequately pump blood to meet the demands of the body. It is often associated with fluid (congestion) in the lungs.

What is an echocardiogram?

An echocardiogram is a test using ultrasound to examine the muscle and valves of the heart.

What is the difference between an angiogram and an angioplasty?

An angiogram (cardiac catheterization) is a diagnostic test in which a catheter is inserted through an artery (usually in the leg) and guided using X-ray to the base of the heart. A dye is then injected to look for blockages in the heart (coronary) arteries.

An angioplasty is a procedure that involves using a device to open a blocked coronary artery. Often, a balloon and a stent (metal scaffold) are used.

What is a balloon pump?

An intra-aortic balloon pump is a device used to temporarily support the heart’s function. It is inserted via an artery in the groin and is attached to a console at the bedside.