Standard noninvasive impedance cardiography has been used to examine the cardiovascular responses of individuals to a wide range of stimuli in critical care and laboratory settings. It has been shown to be a reliable alternative to invasive thermodilution techniques and an acceptable alternative to the use of a pulmonary artery catheter. Ambulatory impedance cardiography provides a similar assessment of cardiac function to standard noninvasive impedance cardiography, but it does so while individuals engage in activities of daily living. It offers portability and the option of managing complex patients in outpatient settings.
To critically examine through a literature analysis the validity, reliability, and sensitivity of ambulatory impedance cardiography for the assessment of cardiac performance during activities of daily living.
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR), The Cochrane Database of Methodology Reviews (CDMR), The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE), National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database (NHS EED), Health Technology Assessment (HTA), and The Cochrane Methodology Register (CMR; 1966-2005); MEDLINE (1950-2005); and CINAHL (1982-2005) were searched using the following terms: ambulatory cardiac performance, impedance cardiac performance, AIM cardiac performance monitor, thoracic electrical bio-impedance, impedance cardiography, ambulatory impedance monitor, bio-impedance technology, ambulatory impedance cardiography, bio-electric impedance; also included were reference lists of retrieved articles. Studies were selected if they used an ambulatory impedance monitor to examine one or more of the following cardiovascular responses: pre-ejection period (PEP), left ventricular ejection time (LVET), stroke volume (SV), or a combination of these.
Studies have been predominantly descriptive and have been focused on a young, male population with a normal body mass index (BMI; 25-29 kg/m2). Inconsistencies in determining specific markers of cardiac function (e.g., PEP and SV) across studies necessitated that results be reported by outcome for each study separately.
Ambulatory impedance monitors are valid and reliable instruments used for the physiologic measurement of cardiac performance. Sensitivity is established utilizing within-individual measurements of relative change. This is especially important in light of an aging population and technical advances in healthcare. Further research is warranted using nursing interventions that focus on an older, female population who have a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2. Availability of noninvasive ambulatory measures of cardiac function has the potential to improve care for a variety of patient populations, including those with hypertension, heart failure, pain, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.