World Heart Day: Preventing Cardiovascular Disease

Sep 30, 2016
Tagged with: World Heart Day: Preventing Cardiovascular Disease


Your heart is at the very core of your health, and it’s crucial to keep it strong and healthy throughout your life. Cardiovascular disease is a major problem worldwide, claiming millions of lives in every country, and negatively affecting millions of others. In the United States, the CDC reports that about 610,000 people die of heart disease each year (1 in 4 of total annual deaths). While these statistics are grim, there is some good news: many deaths from heart disease can be avoided by using preventative care. World Heart Day is September 29th this year, and its goal is to spread awareness about cardiovascular disease and maintaining heart health.

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) encompasses many different heart problems, often stemming from the buildup of plaque in the arteries over time. Plaque in the arteries restricts blood flow to the heart, which makes the heart work harder to function. Sometimes, a blood clot forms and stops the blood flow altogether, resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Blockages cause heart tissue and brain cells to die, which can affect normal functions permanently. Other problems that can occur due to cardiovascular disease include:a

  • Heart Failure—insufficient blood and oxygen being distributed throughout the body
  • Arrhythmia—abnormal heart rate or rhythm
  • Heart Valve Problems—insufficient opening/closing, prolapse, or bulge of the valves

Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Heart problems can originate from many different sources, including congenital defects, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and even stress! Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, awareness of the symptoms is the first step in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It’s important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of heart problems, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain, numbness, or weakness in the extremities
  • Fluttering in the chest
  • Racing or slow heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

Established heart disease is treated with medications, surgery, and/or pacemaker technology.

The Effect of Evidence-Based Practice on Heart Disease Patient Care

Studies provide a basis for doctors to make decisions about patient care, using evidence-based practice (EBP). EBP uses a combination of a physician’s expertise and observations, available, literature, patient preferences, and other evidence to tailor patient care and improve outcomes.

A real-world example of EBP in heart disease patients was tested in 2011 at Stanford Health Care in California, because hospital leaders observed that nearly 20% of all heart failure patients discharged after treatment returned within 30 days. Hospital officials created a data dashboard to track these patients more carefully in real time. Once the system was implemented, the hospital noticed a 6% reduction in readmissions for heart patients, a significant drop from before the EBP was tested.

EBP strategies vary greatly depending on the type of problem to be solved, the resources available, and other factors. No matter what the strategy, however, EBP has been shown time after time to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes.

Nurses Preventing Heart Disease

We all think of doctors when it comes to saving lives and advising us on our health, but they’re not the only ones looking out for our well-being. Nurses also play a major role in reducing deaths from heart disease by engaging patients with transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is a leadership style that involves personally engaging, motivating, and inspiring others to perform beyond expectations and work toward a goal. Many nurses leverage their skills to inspire patients to seek out preventative care that can save lives. Transformational leadership was related to lower patient mortality in three of six studies, according to Bradley University.

Nurses encouraging patients to prioritize preventative care saves lives and money and builds awareness for the real threat of cardiovascular disease. Using evidence-based practice, doctors and nurses can determine which preventative services are proven and worthwhile for patients. For example, by simply discussing aspirin with their patients, nurses save 63 life years per 10,000 people every year. This simple change is something many people are able to implement into their daily lives, reducing their risk of heart disease-related death. Nurses provide much of the foundation of our healthcare system, and they can do so much to help raise awareness and save lives.

Author: Sarah Daren