Home Nurse Services

If you’re a professional caregiver providing home nurse services, you’re trained to recognize health changes that can quickly cause deterioration, and even death. When you’re involved in taking care of a senior with failing health, it’s important to know that heart problems are one of the leading killers in the US. However, there are a few tips that should be considered for one’s own health, as well as for the person you may be caring for:

1. Watch for unusual symptoms.
Most men first realize they have heart problems when they experience pain or become short of breath. But for women, symptoms can be extremely different, which is why heart disease is so often missed in women. A recent study of female heart attack survivors found that most remembered experiencing sleeplessness and unusual fatigue within the month before their heart attacks. And while it’s not considered a classic risk factor, stress is now known to play a role in the onset of heart disease.

2. Get your cholesterol checked.
A normal total cholesterol level is under 200; if your cholesterol is above 200, it’s time to look at lifestyle changes and probably take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Statins are considered beneficial for most of the population, available only by prescription, and can be quite expensive, but they’re often lifesavers. Today most doctors screen for good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels as well. Many experts believe raising HDL through exercise and other lifestyle changes is as important — or more important — than lowering LDL.

3. Schedule a physical and discuss any symptoms with your doctor.
Make sure you tell the doctor if your family has any history of heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. Women may need to be particularly proactive; some doctors were trained when heart disease wasn’t a woman’s issue, so they don’t know what to look for in women and may overlook your symptoms.

4. Ask about additional blood tests.
Newer tests, such as Homocystene and C-Reactive Protein, hold great promise for identifying heart disease risk, but aren’t yet widely in use. However, if the results of your cholesterol screening are inconclusive or your family history suggests you’re at risk for Metabolic Syndrome, talk to your doctor about getting these tests.

5. If you’re experiencing symptoms, get checked.
An EKG (electrocardiogram), which evaluates heart rhythm, is a much simpler test than most people realize. It’s the first step in checking for arrhythmia, blocked arteries, and other issues. If an EKG is abnormal, the next step is a stress test with ultrasound. Stress tests are more expensive but also provide more information. If a stress test indicates a problem, the next step is probably cardiac catheterization, which is highly reliable but invasive. For this, the doctor places a tiny slit in the artery in your upper leg, inserts a catheter into the artery, and pumps in dye to watch the blood flow via a special screen. This is done under anesthesia but is usually an outpatient procedure.

What is involved in providing great home nurse services, is part of knowing one’s own body, but also being keen to recognizing changes in the health of others. Keeping vigilant and aware of slight changes, as well as practicing preventative medicine, will actually contribute to you not needing home nurse services in your immediate future.

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