This February is American Heart Month, which highlights the importance of heart health, throughout the month we’re discussing heart conditions and how home health care and private duty nursing (PDN) can help these conditions.

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? In this post we are outlining how PDN services can improve the lives of those suffering from the most common heart ailments.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is an overarching term that encompasses many different heart conditions. Heart disease conditions can vary greatly in their presented symptoms, especially between genders. Men and women share the same main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking habits. Additional risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Unhealthy diet and exercise habits

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of Americans live with at least one of these risk factors. Heart disease may often go undiagnosed or noticed until extreme symptoms present. Many heart diseases are treatable with medication and lifestyle changes, in more serious cases surgery may be required.

Most common heart ailments

Coronary artery disease

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. CAD results from a buildup of plaque, made up of cholesterol deposits, in the artery walls. When the arteries become narrow over time by a buildup of plaque, blood flow to the heart slows or stops entirely.

The first sign of CAD for many is a heart attack, meaning simply that the heart is not receiving enough blood. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Chest pain
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, shoulders or arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea

Heart attack symptoms can vary between slow or immediate, and mild or intense. Symptoms may also differ between men and women.

The longer the presence of coronary artery disease and lack of blood flow, the greater chance that the heart muscle will sustain damage. If you notice symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or get to an emergency room as soon as possible to lessen the damage to the heart.

Heart failure

Heart failure, or congestive heart failure, is a complication of heart disease where the heart muscle weakens and cannot pump enough blood for the body’s needs.

Left-sided heart failure occurs when the left side of the heart either cannot pump blood with enough force or cannot fill up with enough blood in between each heartbeat. Right-sided heart failure occurs when the right side of the heart weakens and cannot pump out enough blood, causing blood and fluid to back up in the veins and lungs. Typical symptoms of heart failure include:

  • Swelling, especially in the legs (edema)
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations (arrhythmia)

With appropriate lifestyle changes and careful symptom monitoring by a team of health professionals, individuals suffering from heart disease can increase their quality of life and prolong their lives.

Heart valve diseases

People can either be born with heart valve diseases or develop them overtime due to aging or other conditions and risk factors of heart disease. Heart valve disease occurs when one or more of the four heart valves (tricuspid, pulmonary, mitral or aortic) does not open or close correctly as the heart beats. This affects the directional flow of blood and causes strain on the heart, as it has to work harder to move blood.

How private duty nursing can support heart health

Many lifestyle choices individuals may make can lower the controllable risk factors of heart disease. Avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and routine cardiovascular screening are the first steps you can take to lower controllable heart disease risk factors.

Private duty nursing (PDN) services can help support your heart health. At-home PDN can provide you with personalized care and act as an educational resource. A nurse can help you with medication management, administering treatments and keeping you focused on your health and wellness plan.

In more severe cases of heart disease, a PDN nurse can assist with improving strength and movement, monitoring medical equipment and helping patients recover from surgery. Maxim Healthcare Services’ private duty nurses are trained and certified to support your needs.

If you or a loved one is suffering from heart disease or related symptoms, we are here to help. Contact your local Maxim office to learn more about the services available in your area.

Additional resources