In the nursing profession, one of the most progressive fields of medicine is in cardiovascular care and vascular surgery. As a nurse who works in this line of healthcare, it is important to stay apprised of the evolving dynamics of cardiovascular treatment, especially that involving vascular surgery.
In many vascular surgeries, today, the use of surgical devices and tools have replaced the need for open surgeries of the past. In fact, in many cases the use of these stents, balloons and catheters, patients are finding a significant decrease in pain associated with vascular surgery and often the recovery time is a fraction of what would be expected with open surgery.
Nursing in the cardiovascular profession is ever evolving and can be quite challenging. For example, with carotid artery disease, carotid endarterectomy is becoming increasingly more common. However, in some patients, the use of anti-platelet drugs, statin therapy and anti-hypertensive drugs, may provide the same therapeutic benefit.
Peripheral artery disease is another complication that many vascular nurses must become very familiar with. Because PAD affects over five percent of adults over age 60, there will be an increase of PAD cases over the next few decades. With ischemic pain as a significant factor of this disease, many PAD patients will require arterial reconstruction. Without this procedure, the potential for loss of the affected limb is greater than 80 percent in those diagnosed with peripheral artery disease.
With arterial reconstruction, many PAD patients also require the use of stenting or angioplasty at the iliac arteries, something that was not commonly practiced in years past. As a nurse of the vascular surgery division, it is this type of change in healthcare that is important to providing optimal care to the patient.
As a patient who is considering cardiovascular surgery, it is important to understand well, and know, your cardiovascular surgeon. In addition to establishing rapport with your surgeon, be certain there is a good working relationship with his staff of nurses. Often, because cardiovascular surgery requires extensive follow up care and maintenance, the vascular surgery nurse may play a key role in managing your care.
In contrast, if you are a nurse in the cardiovascular unit of a hospital, or you work with a cardiovascular surgery, it is important to understand the dynamics of your role and, equally as important, to stay abreast of the changes in vascular surgery techniques and options. In the case of carotid artery disease and peripheral artery disease, the surgery techniques of the past may have given way to new advances in vascular surgery.