Clinical placements

Nursing from the heart

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading medical causes of death worldwide, which means cardiology departments are under pressure to meet the needs of the population.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading medical causes of death worldwide, which means cardiology departments are under pressure to meet the needs of the population.

Before our cardiology placement, we were anxious about starting because we thought most patients would be in a critical condition and that mortality would be high. However, we were soon proved wrong.

Initially we were overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the ward, the amount of equipment, the terminology and the care demands. But with our mentors’ support we were able to take a step back and break down the department into smaller, digestible chunks. We cared for patients with a variety of cardiac conditions, and were able to explore their experiences as they travelled through the healthcare system.

Many patients underwent procedures in the angiography suite and we witnessed these first-hand. They included the insertion of a pacemaker, angiography and insertion of a stent and using defibrillators. Spending time with the team, we were able to liaise with the technicians, radiographers and patients to provide a high standard of care. This led to an enhanced understanding of the patients’ experiences and how we can provide better holistic care.

Denisa Coman, left, and Christina Proszak are keen to raise awareness of the psychological impact of cardiomyopathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day Christina saw a poster advertising a cardiomyopathy patient information day, organised by a charity called Cardiomyopathy UK (formerly the Cardiomyopathy Association) (see box). Cardiomyopathy was a less common condition on the ward, so we were keen to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiomyopathy is an incurable disease of the heart muscle. Patients and relatives who attended the information day were encouraged to share experiences of living with the condition, which is usually inherited. Listening to their experiences highlighted the importance of adopting a holistic and empathetic approach to nursing and caring for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiomyopathy can affect someone at any age. The inherited nature of the condition appeared to be the most striking issue. Genetic screening can be undertaken, but this raises ethical issues: should the healthcare professional’s duty of care be limited to just the patient? How can patient confidentiality be respected when relatives may be affected by the same condition?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiomyopathy also affects other aspects of a patient’s life – work, school, relationships, housing, insurance and driving. A patient’s comment on the day highlighted the psychological effect of having an inherited condition: the concept of a parent ‘giving this’ to his or her children and that it was their fault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a result of our placement and the information day, we learned that we must be empathetic and effective communicators at all times. Furthermore, we must raise awareness of issues such as cardiomyopathy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although this placement was intense, it was also rewarding. We had a wonderful experience, and the devoted cardiology team made us feel at home. We hope that one day we can be part of that team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardiomyopathy UK charity www.cardiomyopathy.org and facebook.com/cardiomyopathyuk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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