Hi, it’s Patrik Hutzel from intensivecarehotline.com with another quick tip for families in intensive care.
So Joanna asks a very good question, and it’s a question we get all the time and the question is, how long can a person live on life support in intensive care?
Now it is a very general question, but it’s also a very relevant question for patients in ICU, because most patients in ICU are on life support.
Let’s just very briefly look at what is considered as life support in intensive care. One, the main treatment form that is considered life support in intensive care is ventilation with a breathing tube, with a tracheostomy or with noninvasive ventilation.
The next form that’s considered life support is often inotropes or vasopressors to maintain a patient’s physiological blood pressure. A lot of patients in ICU have a blood pressure that’s often not compatible with life, meaning it needs to be treated medically with inotropes or vasopressors.
And third option often is dialysis for kidney failure and other options, for example are ECMO. ECMO is more rare, mainly for lung failure and heart failure, but it’s still an option that is considered life support.
So how long can you support someone on life support? Well, theoretically you can support someone for a long time. I wouldn’t say indefinitely, but definitely on ventilation with tracheostomy in particular, you can support someone almost indefinitely as long as they are hemodynamically stable and don’t need on inotropes or vasopressors.
So the answer is often you can do that indefinitely, but it also depends obviously if the patient is awake, you know, what are their next steps? Inotropes in particular can’t be given forever, dialysis can be given for a long time often for the rest of people’s lives.
ECMO is certainly temporarily, but let’s just focus on the ventilation side of things, tracheostomy in particular, as well as the dialysis side of things that can almost be done indefinitely, especially when patients are hemodynamically stable.
And if your loved one is in intensive care with ventilation and tracheostomy, you can also send your loved one home with a service like intensive care at home and you can check out intensivecareat home.com for more information there.
That’s my quick tip for today.
This is Patrik Hutzel from intensivecarehotline.com. Like the video, comment down below what questions that you have and subscribe to my YouTube channel.
And if you have a loved one in intensive care, go and check out intensivecarehotline.com and call us on one of the numbers on the top of the website, or simply send me an email to [email protected]. Take care.