American Heart Month: Education, Awareness Crucial to Fight Heart Disease

beating heart still © American Heart Association

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the first ever American Heart Month: “It is essential to the health and well-being of our nation that our citizens be made aware of the medical, social, and economic aspects of the problem of cardiovascular diseases, and the measures being taken to combat them.”

The tradition has continued every February since then, and the need to raise awareness about cardiovascular health remains urgent: heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 610,000 Americans die of heart disease each year.

Women may be particularly at risk, both because the warning signs of heart disease can be different for women than for men and because of common misconceptions about heart disease risk, such as the idea that heart disease only affects men or older adults. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills one in three American women—but the American Heart Association (AHA) says 80% of those deaths could be prevented with education and action. The AHA’s Go Red for Women campaign offers many resources to help women learn about risk factors, symptoms, and prevention of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. […]

February 11th, 2016|Nursing, Patients|0 Comments

Unanticipated Codes

By Marcy Phipps, RN, a regular contributor to this blog. Her essay, “The Love Song of Frank,” was published in the May (2012) issue of AJN. She currently has an essay appearing in The Examined Life Journal.

Code cart/courtesy of author Code cart/courtesy of author

My mentor once told me that there are almost never unanticipated cardiac arrests in the ICU. I’ve found this to be true. Certain indicators, like laboratory abnormalities or particular cardiac rhythms, can foretell a Code, and sometimes subtle signs trigger an instinctual foreboding that I’ve learned never to ignore.

The conviction that a Code Blue can be anticipated provides a sense of security; if the arrest is anticipated, then it may be preventable. And when it’s inevitable, at least anticipation allows for preparation. I strongly believe this. And yet this weekend my patient coded and I was caught completely off guard.

I had just remarked to one of my colleagues that my petite, elderly Chinese patient (some identifying details have been changed) was looking so much better than she had when I’d admitted her earlier that day from the floor—she’d been in respiratory distress, in a hypertensive crisis, and in need of immediate dialysis. All of the various specialty consultants had seen her and collaborated and I’d had the thought that Ms. M’s day would end very well, that it would be one of those nursing shifts where I’d see a metamorphosis […]

February 20th, 2013|nursing perspective|5 Comments