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Activity is another important concern for many individuals that have congestive heart failure. Some of them will be resentful of the fact that they are no longer are able to perform many of the activities that they once performed, and others will be so afraid to perform any type of activity at all that they will become sedentary, which can also be dangerous. All individuals, regardless of their medical condition, should be encouraged to be as active as they can safely for as long as they can (Legge & Leeper, 2002).
When nurses work with individuals that have congestive heart failure, they should work towards reassuring them about the activity level that they can handle and what they should be doing to keep themselves as healthy as possible. As has been mentioned, most cases of congestive heart failure are mild to moderate and they can be treated with proper lifestyle changes and medications. Once this takes place, individuals should be able to perform normal daily activities for the most part and the only thing that they must be careful to do is not overexert themselves. In other words, an individual with congestive heart failure must not feel that he or she can only sit on the couch and watch television all day, but he or she also must be aware of the fact that going jogging or performing some other tasks that will raise the heart rate and the breathing to any great extent may be dangerous and uncomfortable.
Pain management is another significant issue. Not all individuals that have congestive heart failure have pain, but chest pains and other pains from the inactivity that often takes place in people with this condition can be problematic. Generally, pain management is more of an issue for congestive heart failure patients that have had some type of surgical correction or other invasive procedure. This can come from having a pacemaker implanted, having a valve repaired or replaced, having angioplasty to open the arteries, or any other invasive procedure that takes place. Generally, immediately after these procedures pain medication can usually be given as needed (Legge & Leeper, 2002). However, this does not give the patient or the nurse any type of license to overuse the medication prescribed.
Developing a strategy for pain management from a nursing standpoint is somewhat difficult because not all patients have the same amount of pain and not all of them experience it in the same ways. Some individuals have a much higher tolerance for pain than other individuals do and when these individuals that have a low tolerance for pain continue to ask for medication nurses may get uncomfortable about the amount of medication that these individuals are taking or asking to take. Nurses must develop strategies that will counsel these individuals as to how much medication they are capable of taking and ensure that these patients understand that there is not a deliberate withholding of medication to cause any type of additional pain to the patient. Too much medication can be just as dangerous as not enough and care must be taken with these patients, especially the elderly that often are rather small and frail and do not handle large doses of medication well.
Naturally, there are many other concerns that nurses may have to deal with on a daily basis when they are taking care of patients with congestive heart failure. Some of these other areas of concern can include physiological integrity and oxygenation, among other things. Congestive heart failure is a disease that has many signs and symptoms and can cause many problems, and therefore it must be carefully monitored. Nurses are extremely valuable in this regard because they have a great deal of skill and are usually used to handling congestive heart failure patients. Although every patient is different much of what they go through is very similar and nurses that are able to identify the areas of concern and take charge of them to help the patient feel better are extremely significant to the field.
As can be seen, congestive heart failure is a condition that primarily affects the elderly and generally affects more men and women. However, this does not mean that younger people cannot get congestive heart failure or that women are not also at risk. There are many risk factors for congestive heart failure and not all of them can be controlled. It is important, however, to control the factors that one is able to, such as quitting smoking, getting blood pressure and diabetes under control, losing weight, watching one's diet, and other things. Family history and other medical conditions are not controllable risk factors for congestive heart failure, and those individuals that have uncontrollable risk factors for congestive heart failure must be more careful that other individuals overall to take care of the risk factors that are controllable to ensure their longevity and safety.
Congestive heart failure is still something that is being studied and it is possible in the future that more will be known about it and new or better ways of treating it will be found. However, until that time there are still only certain procedures that work well and only certain medications that are normally utilized. With these medications and procedures, however, most congestive heart failure patients can live a reasonably normal and high-quality life.
Badash, M. (2003). Risk Factors for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). Retrieved 9 February 2005 at http://www.stjohn.org/healthinfolib/HGArticle.aspx?ArticleID=19256
Congestive Heart Failure (2005). American Heart Association. Retrieved 9 February 2005 at http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4585
Legge, D., & Leeper, B. (2002). Management of heart failure: Use of biventricular pacing. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 16(3): 72.
Plowfield, L. (2004). Clinical education initiative in the community: caring for patients with congestive heart failure. Nursing Education…[continue]
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