Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) is a set of medical protocols and skills that are used to provide life-saving treatments to those who are experiencing a cardiac emergency. ACLS is used in combination with basic life support (BLS) for the purpose of enhancing quality of care for victims of cardiac arrest, arrhythmias, stroke, and other life-threatening medical emergencies. It is most often used in hospitals or other advanced healthcare settings. The goal of ACLS is to provide timely interventions with the best possible outcomes for the patient. Since it was first developed in 1974, ACLS has become an important part of modern emergency medicine. It emphasizes early recognition and treatment of cardiac arrests or other critical conditions, as well as high quality CPR techniques and immediate defibrillation when needed. ACLS involves a number of core procedures including airway management with intubation, chest compressions, drug administration (such as epinephrine), defibrillation/cardioversion, synchronized cardioversion, transcutaneous pacing and transvenous pacing. The exact procedure will depend on the condition being treated but generally follows a standard algorithm based on evidence-based medicine guidelines. Additionally, ACLS protocols may also include specific post-resuscitation care such as administering medications or providing cooling therapy if necessary to help prevent brain damage after a cardiac arrest episode. In order to be certified in ACLS one must take an approved course from an accredited organization such as the American Heart Association or American Red Cross which includes didactic instruction on algorithms and practice using simulation scenarios before taking an exam to demonstrate competence in performing ACLS skills correctly under pressure. Those who complete this certification are known as Advanced Cardiac Life Support Providers (ACLSPs). Though it is not required for all healthcare professionals providing care within advanced healthcare settings such as hospitals or clinics, those who do possess this certification demonstrate their commitment to providing excellent patient care when faced with potentially life threatening situations due to cardiovascular related issues.
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