December 2007, Volume 37 Number 12 , p 14 - 15
Hankins, Judy RN, CRNI, BSN
Judy Hankins is the infusion specialist and training coordinator in the department of pharmacy at Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro, N.C.
ALBUMIN PLAYS an important role in maintaining intravascular oncotic pressure. Very low levels of albumin can lead to lower-extremity edema, ascites, and pulmonary edema secondary to increased vascular permeability. Decreased albumin levels are common in hospitalized patients, in part because administering I.V. fluids can dilute body fluids. One study found that 76% of critically ill children with shock, metabolic acidosis, and hyperlactatemia also had hypoalbuminemia, increasing their risk of death. 1 In this article, I'll review albumin's role in the body and discuss how to recognize hypoalbuminemia and manage the patient's care.
What is albumin?
The liver produces 9 to 12 grams/day of this complex substance; a molecule of serum albumin looks like a large bunch of grapes. ...