The cardiovascular system is made up of heart and the blood vessels. Its main function is to transport blood and nutrients to different parts of the body. The common diseases of the cardiovascular system are arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, hypertension, and heart valve problems.
By being aware of these diseases and their accompanying symptoms, the CNA will be able to provide proper care for such patients. Identifying any symptoms of cardiovascular disease and reporting them immediately will help save the patient’s life.
Arteriosclerosis: Arteriosclerosis is a common condition in the elderly patients. It occurs when plaque builds up along the walls of the coronary arteries. The arteries become too narrow, making it difficult for the blood to pass through the arteries. This may also cause blood clots which stops blood flow to the heart. This can result in a heart attack or stroke. A patient with arteriosclerosis will display signs of confusion, dizziness, and light-headedness. This increases the patient’s risk of falls and accidents.
The CNA should take the following actions when symptoms of arteriosclerosis are seen in a patient:
- Hold the patient safely and stop him from moving.
- Place the patient on a bed or the floor.
- Do not leave the patient. Stay with him/her and call for help.
- Make note of the patient’s condition and be alert for any signs of deterioration of health
- If the patient is experiencing a heart attack, he/she requires emergency intervention.
Thrombosis: Thrombosis is a condition of the circulatory system in which a blood clot causes blockage of an artery or vein. If prompt treatment is not given, this condition can result in disability or death. The area where the clots occur becomes red and swollen. If it occurs in the heart, it causes a heart attack. Such a patient will display shortness of breath (dyspnea).
The CNA should immediately report any such conditions to the supervisor, as it may indicate thrombosis.
Hypertension: Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition when the patient’s blood pressure exceeds 140/90. It can gradually cause heart disease and damage other organs of the body. Obesity and diabetes are some of the factors for hypertension.
The CNA should take the following actions for a patient with hypertension:
- Ensure that the patient eats a healthy diet. Foods that cause edema and fatty and sugary foods should be discarded.
- Observe the patient closely. Monitor intake and output of the patient.
- Monitor vital signs. Report any changes in the vital signs immediately.
Heart Valve Problems: Stenosis is a heart valve problem in which the heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through. The other condition is regurgitation in which the heart valves don’t close properly, resulting in blood leak. In such cases, the patient will display signs such as shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heartbeats, lightheadedness, swollen ankles and feet, and loss of consciousness.
The CNA should be alert to such changes in the patient’s health and report them immediately to the nurse as it needs emergency intervention.