Understanding Acute Coronary Syndrome

The article entitled “Acute Coronary Syndrome,” written by Kristen J. Overbaugh, is a very informative piece that encourages all nurses to be able to effectively identify the signs and symptoms, as well as be informed of the treatments involved within the set of diseases that this syndrome entails. I chose this article in particular because coronary artery disease is the number one disease in our nation, and everyone that works in the health field should know at least the basics involved in recognizing the signs and symptoms in a patient, even if they are not qualified to “make the diagnosis.

” Knowing what to look for in a patient, and being able to pass the information on to other members on the medical team will help the patient to receive the optimum care in an efficient time frame, which is important to save heart muscle. The article goes into detail describing which diseases are considered to be in the category of acute coronary syndrome. Also it gives very scary statistics such as “One woman or man experiences a coronary artery disease event about every 2. 5 seconds…” (Overbaugh, 2009, p. 42).

That number alone should be a wakeup call to all Americans to begin anew, although it is more of an optimistic dream rather than a reality. Ms. Overbaugh is very thorough, going through risk factors, pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, and various treatment options, depending on the progression of the disease and the individual patient’s needs. What I am very glad to see, is that she has also included in her article the atypical signs and symptoms that are experienced by women during experiencing a myocardial infarction.

These symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, lethargy, indigestion and anxiety right before an acute MI (Overbaugh, 2009 p. 45). Also, it goes on to mention that women typically experience a numb or tingling feeling in their back rather than in the chest, as would a man may feel. I feel that this explains what is different in a female patient that is presenting symptoms, and to know what to look for is imperative to that patient’s survival.

According to our Medical surgical textbook, “Although women and men have more similarities in their symptoms of an acute MI than differences, some women may experience atypical discomfort, shortness of breath, or fatigue” ( Lewis, Heitkemper, Dirksen, 2007, p. 804). This seems to me to downplaying the differences that men and women actually experience during or just prior to an MI. I believe this is why women do tend to not receive the same attention and care to their symptoms, because they are being identified as being “typically the same.

” Also of importance to learn, is what the initial treatment for someone presenting with symptoms of angina, an MI, or someone at all experiencing cardiac symptoms. The acronym “MONA” is very effective to remember in cases when the caregiver may be having difficulty recalling the necessary initial treatments involved. (A) Aspirin, 162-325mg should be given by mouth, unless contraindicated, (O) oxygen therapy to be started 2 to 4 L/min to keep the patients SaO2 level greater than 90%, (N) nitroglycerin tablets every 5 minutes, up to 3 doses, and (M) morphine if the patient’s pain is not alleviated by the administration of the nitroglycerin.

As the author states, the acronym is not necessarily in the order that the treatments should be given, but remembering what is involved is the first step in treatment. Having early intervention is the key to patient survival and reducing further complications of the disease episode, and loss of heart muscle function. Our textbook also mentions these interventions, but simply explains that these are frequently administered in the emergency department.

I feel that all nursing personnel should be aware of what to do if their patient does present with these symptoms, because they may not necessarily in the emergency department when an episode occurs. They could be on any floor of the hospital, or in a doctor’s office or facility. Being made aware of what is going on and what to do is very important in a nurses’ line of work. There are much more information in this article than I could cover in this report, but I have chosen a couple of topics that I thought is of importance from a student’s standpoint.

I would like to be optimally prepared to take care of any patient that may cross my path, even though I may not know everything there is to know, any acquired knowledge may one day contribute to saving a life. References Lewis, S. L. , McClean Heitkemper, M. , & Dirksen, S. R. (2007). Medical Surgical Nursing Assessment and Management of Clinical Problems. St. Louis, Missouri: Mosby Elsvier. Overbaugh, MSN, RN, APRN-BC, K. J. (2008). Acute Coronary Syndrome. American Journal of Nursing, 109(5), 42-52.

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