Hospitals in general, are of three types, primary, secondary, and tertiary. All of these types have a variety of units based on a specific purpose. In primary hospitals, all units might be located together but in tertiary care hospitals, they are typically separated by the type of care that the patient required.

Besides general wards and private rooms, patients suffering from critical health conditions are shifted to ICU or CCU. The main difference between ICU and CCU is the prevalent disease of the patient.

ICU is the general term for any critical care unit where patients with a critical health condition or usually after an operation or surgery are kept for high-level care and monitoring while CCU on the other hand, is a more specific critical care unit that is particularly for the patients suffering from a cardiac disorder.

Comparison Chart

Term Indication ICU stands for Intensive Care Unit or Intensive Therapy Unit CCU stands for Cardiac Care Unit, Coronary Care Unit, or Critical Care Unit
Types of Patients Admitted Patients undergoing various surgeries and operations, after an accident, or sudden and critical health deterioration of a patient Patients with cardiac conditions like cardiac dysrhythmia, heart attack, and unstable angina
Equipment Heart monitor, defibrillators, ventilator, pulse oximeter, laryngoscope, infusion pump, syringe pump, DVT pumps, nebulizer, pacemaker, suction machine, dialysis machine, air bed, ophthalmoscope, catheters, intravenous lines, and other equipment used to monitor fluids Same equipment used in ICU but also contains more extensive equipment used to monitor cardiac health such as, cardiac monitors, electrocardiograms, EKGs, pulse monitors, mechanical ventilators, respirators, chest tube, gastric tube, endotracheal tube, and PICC line/CVP line
Subsets ICU has the following subsets, CCU (cardiac care unit), NICU(neonatal care unit), PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), NeuroICU (neurological intensive care unit), and PACU (post-anesthesia care unit A subset of ICU
Staff Intensivists, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, speech therapists, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and social workers A team of heart specialist surgeons and physicians along with specialized nurses and other hospital staff working in ICU to look after the patient

What is ICU?         

“Intensive care unit” is a specialized critical care center that involves close monitoring and advance treatment of critically ill patients”.

ICU provides critical care and life support for patients suffering from life-threatening injuries or diseases and is well equipped with medical apparatus that electronically monitors vital signs such as respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Who Is Cared For In ICU?

Usually, patients going through various operations or surgical treatments are kept in ICU for more care and focused treatment.

In some hospitals, intensive care units provide care for particular health conditions or injuries including,

  • Severe burns
  • Major trauma
  • Organ transplants
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Complex spinal surgery

Design of ICU

ICU is one of the most critically functioning operational units in a hospital. It is a large sterile area with a high concentration of specialized, technical, and monitoring equipment to allow continuous observation of patients and highly technical care of patients day and night.

Today, an intensive care unit is one of the departments with the highest ratio of doctors and nurses to patients and is designed and well-equipped to give patients the support who suffer from the failure of the major organs involved in respiration, circulation, and consciousness.

ICU Team

  • Intensivists
  • Consultant
  • Residents
  • Nurses
  • Care Facilitator
  • Pharmacists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Dietitian
  • Social Workers

What Is CCU?

“Coronary care unit or cardiac care unit” is a specialized critical care center that involves close monitoring and advance treatment of people with serious and acute heart problems”.

Who Is Cared For In CCU?

CCU provides critical care to patients with serious cardiac conditions such as,

  • Heart failure
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Unstable Angina
  • Open heart surgery
  • Stroke

Patients in CCU require close and continuous monitoring around the clock with constant medication.

Design of CCU

Like the ICU, patients in the CCU are hooked up to wires and tubes. All patients admitted to CCU are placed on a heart monitor and pulse monitor which records and analyzes each beat of their heart rhythm, and alerts the staff immediately if serious arrhythmia occurs.

Unstable patients also will have temporary catheters placed into a wrist artery to continuously monitor their blood pressure, or into their pulmonary artery to monitor the pressures within their hearts. Patients who have severe heart failure may receive an Intra Aortic Balloon Pump (IABP), or a left ventricular assist device, to help their hearts to pump blood.

At times, cardiac conditions can lead to serious breathing problems, so ventilators are also available.

Today, a CCU is usually designed differently than a typical hospital ward. Most modern CCUs will have a centralized nursing station, surrounded by 8 to 12 single rooms with large glass windows so that each patient can be seen from the nursing station. The nursing station also will have several monitoring screens which show continuous readouts for every patient. If there is any kind of emergency it is detected immediately, and trained personnel are only steps away.

CCU Team

The coronary care unit has a team of nurses who specialize in the care of patients with heart conditions. In response to patient feedback, our cardiology team also includes a senior pharmacist who is available to give patient education and prepare medications to take hope to speed up the discharge process.

We also have a physiotherapist and occupational therapist on the wards every day during the week to maintain mobility and independence.

Key Differences between CCU and ICU

  1. ICU is a critical care unit for surgical and general patients who are critically ill while CCU is a critical care unit for non-surgical and specifically only patients with heart problems.
  2. The focal point of care is different for both units, ICU specializes in providing intensive treatment for patients suffering from life-threatening diseases such as, severe trauma, sepsis, multiple organ failure, severe burn, and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) while is a specially designed to closely monitor patients with cardiac conditions like cardiac arrest, cardiac dysrhythmia, and unstable angina.
  3. ICU has subtypes such as NICU, PICU, PACU, and NeuroICU while CCU has no subtypes.

Comparison Video


Both ICU and CCU are critical care units but both have a different focus on caring for patients. ICU has a primary focus on caring for patients with failures of major systems in the body but CCU is specifically designed for heart patients only.

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