Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

Sample of nursing care plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

Nursing diagnosis: Decreased Cardiac Output

Definition of Decreased Cardiac Output| Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output
  • Inadequate blood pumped by the heart to meet the metabolic demands of the body. [Note: In a hypermetabolic state, although cardiac output may be within normal range, it may still be inadequate to meet the needs of the body’s tissues. Cardiac output and tissue perfusion are interrelated, although there are differences. When cardiac output is decreased, tissue perfusion problems will develop; however, tissue perfusion problems can exist without decreased cardiac output.]

Related Factors | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

  • Altered heart rate/rhythm, [conduction]

  • Altered stroke volume: altered preload [e.g., decreased venous return]; altered afterload [e.g., systemic vascular resistance]; altered contractility [e.g., ventricular-septal rupture, ventricular aneurysm, papillary muscle rupture, valvular disease]

Defining Characteristics | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output


  • Altered Heart Rate/Rhythm: Palpitations

  • Altered Preload: Fatigue

  • Altered Afterload: Shortness of breath/dyspnea

  • Altered Contractility: Orthopnea/paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea [PND]

  • Behavioral/Emotional: Anxiety


  • Altered Heart Rate/Rhythm: [Dys]arrhythmias (tachycardia, bradycardia);

  • EKG [ECG] changes

  • Altered Preload: Jugular vein distention (JVD); edema; weight gain; increased/decreased central venous pressure (CVP);

  • increased/decreased pulmonary artery wedge pressure (PAWP); murmurs

  • Altered Afterload: Cold, clammy skin; skin [and mucous membrane] color changes [cyanosis, pallor]; prolonged capillary refill; decreased peripheral pulses; variations in blood pressure readings; increased/decreased systemic vascular resistance (SVR)/pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR); oliguria; [anuria]

  • Altered Contractility: Crackles; cough; cardiac output, 4 L/min; cardiac index, 2.5 L/min; decreased ejection fraction, stroke volume index (SVI), left ventricular stroke work index (LVSWI); S3 or S4 sounds [gallop rhythm]

  • Behavioral/Emotional: Restlessness

Desired Outcomes/Evaluation Criteria—Client Will:

  • Display hemodynamic stability (e.g., blood pressure, cardiac output, renal perfusion/urinary output, peripheral pulses).

  • Report/demonstrate decreased episodes of dyspnea, angina, and dysrhythmias.

  • Demonstrate an increase in activity tolerance.

  • Verbalize knowledge of the disease process, individual risk factors, and treatment plan.

  • Participate in activities that reduce the workload of the heart (e.g., stress management or therapeutic medication regimen program, weight reduction, balanced activity/rest plan, proper use of supplemental oxygen, cessation of smoking).

  • Identify signs of cardiac decompensation, alter activities, and seek help appropriately.

Nursing Interventions for Decreased Cardiac Output | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

NURSING PRIORITY NO. 1. To identify causative/contributing factors:

  • Review clients at risk as noted in Related Factors. Note: Individuals with brainstem trauma, spinal cord injuries at T7 or above, may be at risk for altered cardiac output due to an uninhibited sympathetic response. (Refer to ND Autonomic Dysreflexia, risk for.)

  • Evaluate medication regimen; note drug use/abuse.

  • Assess potential for/type of developing shock states: hematogenic, bacteremic, cardiogenic, vasogenic, and psychogenic.

  • Review laboratory data (e.g., complete blood cell—CBC—count, electrolytes, ABGs, blood urea nitrogen/creatinine—BUN/Cr—cardiac enzymes, and cultures, such as blood/wound/secretions).

NURSING PRIORITY NO. 2. To assess degree of debilitation:

  • Determine baseline vital signs/hemodynamic parameters including peripheral pulses. (Provides opportunities to track changes.)

  • Review signs of impending failure/shock, noting vital signs, invasive hemodynamic parameters, breath sounds, heart tones, and urinary output. Note presence of pulsus paradoxus, reflecting cardiac tamponade.

  • Review diagnostic studies (e.g., pharmacologic stress testing, ECG, scans, echocardiogram, heart catheterization).

  • Note response to activity/procedures and time required to return to baseline vital signs.

NURSING PRIORITY NO. 3. To minimize/correct causative factors, maximize cardiac output:


  • Position with HOB flat or keep trunk horizontal while raising legs 20 to 30 degrees in shock situation (contraindicated in congestive state, in which semi-Fowler’s position is preferred).

  • Monitor vital signs frequently to note response to activities.

  • Perform periodic hemodynamic measurements as indicated (e.g., arterial, CVP, pulmonary, and left atrial pressures; cardiac output).

  • Monitor cardiac rhythm continuously to note effectiveness of medications and/or devices (e.g., implanted pacemaker/defibrillator).

  • Administer blood/fluid replacement, antibiotics, diuretics, inotropic drugs, antidysrhythmics, steroids, vasopressors, and/or dilators as indicated. Evaluate response to determine therapeutic, adverse, or toxic effects of therapy.

  • Restrict or administer fluids (IV/PO) as indicated. Provide adequate fluid/free water, depending on client needs. Assess hourly or periodic urinary output, noting total fluid balance to allow for timely alterations in therapeutic regimen.

  • Monitor rate of IV drugs closely, using infusion pumps as appropriate to prevent bolus/overdose.

  • Administer supplemental oxygen as indicated to increase oxygen available to tissues.

  • Promote adequate rest by decreasing stimuli, providing quiet environment. Schedule activities and assessments to maximize sleep periods.

  • Assist with or perform self-care activities for client.

  • Avoid the use of restraints whenever possible if client is confused. (May increase agitation and increase the cardiac workload.)

  • Use sedation and analgesics as indicated with caution to achieve desired effect without compromising hemodynamic readings.

  • Maintain patency of invasive intravascular monitoring and infusion lines. Tape connections to prevent air embolus and/or exsanguination.

  • Maintain aseptic technique during invasive procedures.

  • Provide site care as indicated.

  • Provide antipyretics/fever control actions as indicated.

  • Weigh daily.

  • Avoid activities, such as isometric exercises, rectal stimulation, vomiting, spasmodic coughing, which may stimulate a Valsalva response. Administer stool softener as indicated.

  • Encourage client to breathe deeply in/out during activities that increase risk of Valsalva effect.

  • Alter environment/bed linens to maintain body temperature in near-normal range.

  • Provide psychologic support. Maintain calm attitude but admit concerns if questioned by the client. Honesty can be reassuring when so much activity and “worry” are apparent to the client.

  • Provide information about testing procedures and client participation.

  • Assist with special procedures as indicated (e.g., invasive line placement, intra-aortic—IA—balloon insertion, pericardiocentesis, cardioversion, pacemaker insertion).

  • Explain dietary/fluid restrictions.

  • Refer to ND Tissue Perfusion, ineffective.

NURSING PRIORITY NO. 4. To promote venous return:


  • Provide for adequate rest, positioning client for maximum comfort. Administer analgesics as appropriate.

  • Encourage relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety.

  • Elevate legs when in sitting position; apply abdominal binder if indicated, use tilt table as needed to prevent orthostatic hypotension.

  • Give skin care, provide sheepskin or air/water/gel/foam mattress, and assist with frequent position changes to avoid the development of pressure sores.

  • Elevate edematous extremities and avoid restrictive clothing. When support hose are used, be sure they are individually fitted and appropriately applied.

  • Increase activity levels as permitted by individual condition.

NURSING PRIORITY NO. 5. To maintain adequate nutrition and fluid balance:

  • Provide for diet restrictions (e.g., low-sodium, bland, soft, low-calorie/residue/fat diet, with frequent small feedings as indicated).

  • Note reports of anorexia/nausea and withhold oral intake as indicated.

  • Provide fluids as indicated (may have some restrictions; may need to consider electrolyte replacement/supplementation to minimize dysrhythmias).

  • Monitor intake/output and calculate 24-hour fluid balance.

NURSING PRIORITY NO. 6. To promote wellness (Teaching/Discharge Considerations):

  • Note individual risk factors present (e.g., smoking, stress, obesity) and specify interventions for reduction of identified factors.

  • Review specifics of drug regimen, diet, exercise/activity plan.

  • Discuss significant signs/symptoms that need to be reported to healthcare provider (e.g., muscle cramps, headaches, dizziness, skin rashes) that may be signs of drug toxicity and/or mineral loss, especially potassium.

  • Review “danger” signs requiring immediate physician notification (e.g., unrelieved or increased chest pain, dyspnea, edema).

  • Encourage changing positions slowly, dangling legs before standing to reduce risk of orthostatic hypotension.

  • Give information about positive signs of improvement, such as decreased edema, improved vital signs/circulation to provide encouragement.

  • Teach home monitoring of weight, pulse, and/or blood pressure as appropriate to detect change and allow for timely intervention.

  • Promote visits from family/SO(s) who provide positive input.

  • Encourage relaxing environment, using relaxation techniques, massage therapy, soothing music, quiet activities.

  • Teach stress management techniques as indicated, including appropriate exercise program.

  • Identify resources for weight reduction, cessation of smoking, and so forth to provide support for change.

  • Refer to NDs Activity Intolerance; Diversional Activity, deficient; Coping, ineffective and Coping, family: compromised; Sexual Dysfunction; Pain, acute/chronic; Nutrition, imbalanced; Fluid Volume, deficient/excess, as indicated.

Documentation Focus | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

ASSESSMENT/REASSESSMENT | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

  • Baseline and subsequent findings and individual hemodynamic parameters, heart and breath sounds, ECG pattern, presence/strength of peripheral pulses, skin/tissue status, renal output, and mentation.

PLANNING | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

  • Plan of care and who is involved in planning.

  • Teaching plan.

IMPLEMENTATION/EVALUATION | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

  • Client’s responses to interventions/teaching and actions performed.

  • Status and disposition at discharge.

  • Attainment/progress toward desired outcome(s).

  • Modifications to plan of care.

DISCHARGE PLANNING | Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output

  • Discharge considerations and who will be responsible for carrying out individual actions.

  • Long-term needs.

  • Specific referrals made.

This is a sample of Nursing Care Plan for Decreased Cardiac Output