British Journal of Nursing, Vol. 18, Iss. 6, 26 Mar 2009, pp 359 - 364
Cardiovascular pathophysiological changes, such as hypertension and enlarged ventricles, reflect the altered functions of the heart and its circulation during ill-health. This article examines the normal and altered anatomy of the cardiac valves, the contractile elements and enzymes of the myocardium, the significance of the different factors associated with cardiac output, and the role of the autonomic nervous system in the heart beat. It also explores how certain diseases alter these functions and result in cardiac symptoms. Nurses can benefit from knowledge of these specific changes, for example, by being able to ask relevant questions in order to ascertain the nature of a patientís condition, by being able to take an effective patient history and by being able to read diagnostic results, such as electrocardiograms and cardiac enzyme results. All this will help nurses to promote sound cardiac care based on a physiological rationale.