The Effects of Obesity on the Cardiopulmonary System: Implications for Critical Care Nursing

Kim Garrett, RN, MS, CNP; Kathy Lauer, RN, PhD; Beth-Anne Christopher, RN, MS


Prog Cardiovasc Nurs. 2004;19(4) 

In This Article

Assessment of Cardiovascular Function

Cardiac function is assessed by a variety of different measurements, which include cardiac output; blood pressure; heart rate; physical assessment findings such as abnormal heart sounds, organomegaly, and jugular venous distention; as well as clinical signs and symptoms, including arrhythmias, dyspnea, and fatigue. While performing these assessments, the critical care nurse must be aware of the potential impact obesity might have on the outcome. Hemodynamic alterations related to increases in plasma volume are commonly seen in obese individuals and include increases in cardiac output, right atrial pressure, right ventricular end-diastolic pressure, pulmonary artery mean, and occlusive pressures. Decreases in LV ejection fraction and decreased LV end-diastolic pressure may be related to the development of systemic hypertension and systolic and/or diastolic dysfunction seen in obesity-related cardiomyopathy.[17]


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