Low cardiac output syndrome: identification and management

Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2005 Dec;17(4):375-83, x. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2005.07.005.


Low cardiac output syndrome (LCOS) is a clinical condition that is caused by a transient decrease in systemic perfusion secondary to myocardial dysfunction. The outcome is an imbalance between oxygen delivery and oxygen consumption at the cellular level which leads to metabolic acidosis. Although LCOS is observed most commonly in patients after cardiac surgery, it may present in various disease processes resulting in cardiac dysfunction. This article provides an overview of the determinants involved in oxygen transport, the physiologic factors influencing cardiovascular function, the assessment of hemodynamic variables, the etiology of LCOS, and management strategies, including a brief review of some pharmacologic agents that are used in the treatment of low cardiac output.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiac Output / physiology
  • Cardiac Output, Low / diagnosis*
  • Cardiac Output, Low / etiology
  • Cardiac Output, Low / metabolism
  • Cardiac Output, Low / physiopathology
  • Cardiac Output, Low / therapy*
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hemoglobins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / nursing
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration
  • Pediatric Nursing / methods*
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Hemoglobins
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Vasodilator Agents