Caring for Patients with Heart Problems
The heart and all of its connecting blood vessels make up the cardiovascular system in the body. The cardiovascular system is vital to life because it carries oxygen and nutrients to the tissues in the body and also removes waste materials from those tissues. Two of the most common conditions of the cardiovascular system are hypertension and angina.
Hypertension is often called high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure of the blood as it passes through the blood vessels. When a person’s blood pressure remains higher than normal for an extended period of time, this condition causes a dangerous problem for the heart and blood vessels. However, hypertension can be controlled through the use of medication to lower the person’s blood pressure. If a patient thinks that his blood pressure is not high any longer and stops taking his medication, the nursing staff should be notified. Even if a patient does not have symptoms any longer, he should continue to take the medication. Reminding patients to take their high blood pressure medication may be one of your job duties as a nursing assistant.
Another heart condition is angina. Angina is chest pain due to a lack of oxygen, often caused by stress or exercise. Angina may feel like a heart attack. When a patient is experiencing angina, he may take a nitroglycerin tablet under the tongue or apply a patch to his skin to reduce the pain. He should rest and take deep breaths. When he feels better, he may be afraid to resume exercise or any type of physical activity, but you should encourage him to do light exercise each day to keep him heart healthy.