ACLS Algorithms American Heart Association

Advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) is used to diagnose and treat emergencies, and the protocols and treatments of ACLS have been organized into algorithms. An algorithm is defined as a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem.

The following is an example of an ACLS algorithm:



ACLS algorithms a) start with a clinical sign/symptom, b) provide a diagnosis, c) outline the treatment options and provide the clinician with alternative treatments if the clinical picture changes or any particular treatment is not effective. There are ACLS algorithms for acute coronary syndromes, bradycardia, cardiac arrest, pulseless electrical activity, and many other medical emergencies.

Each algorithm provides physicians and nurses with an organized, step-by-step process for responding to these emergencies. The algorithms are essential knowledge for health care professionals who work in acute care settings, and they have been proven to be highly effective. However, as with any clinical tool, they cannot simply be applied: they must be used correctly.