Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Heart of Nursing

Caroline is a cardiac nurse specialist and as part of her role cares for heart failure patients, monitors their symptoms and helps them to plan their long-term care. She is one of 17 community cardiac nurses providing long-term care to patients within the trust.

Heart failure patients require ongoing monitoring because their symptoms, which include shortness of breath, fluid retention and fatigue. It can vary greatly from patient to patient, and also day to day.

“Often we see patients who are really uncomfortable but because of the intervention that we do and the adjustments we make to their medication, their symptoms improve dramatically. Often, within a week or two, patients say they can breathe easier again,” she explains.

Many of these interventions are carried out in Caroline’s heart failure clinic. Caroline spends time with the patients discussing their symptoms and taking blood tests. Based on this information, she can adjust doses of medication accordingly and give lifestyle advice, which can help people to manage heart failure.

Caroline also sees patients in their own home when they are too unwell to attend the clinic. If a patient who is retaining fluid doesn’t respond to an increase in water tablets, they often find that they benefit from having it delivered intravenously via a drip. In the past, dealing with this would mean admitting the patient to hospital. A few years ago, our community cardiac team in Leeds received a grant from the British Heart Foundation’s ground breaking scheme to pilot delivery of intravenous diuretics at home. The trial was a great success, and since, the service has been able to improve the lives of many patients that have been able to receive treatment in their own homes. 

Find out more about the community cardiac service here


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