Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide, causing more deaths than any other disease or condition. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, accounting for 32% of all deaths globally In the United States alone, heart disease is the leading cause of death, with someone dying from heart disease every thirty-four seconds.
Given the prevalence and gravity of heart disease, cardiac nursing has become one of the most essential nursing specialties today. Cardiac nurses are trained to provide specialized care to patients with heart diseases or conditions, managing and treating various cardiovascular diseases and working towards disease prevention through screenings, stress tests, and health counseling.
What Does Cardiovascular Nursing Mean in Medical Terms?
Cardiac nursing refers to the care of patients with heart diseases or conditions. It involves the treatment and management of diseases and conditions of the cardiovascular system. Cardiac nurses are trained to evaluate cardiac tests, monitor heart devices, manage heart conditions, administer cardiac medications, and educate patients on maintaining heart-healthy lifestyles.
Patients under the care of cardiac nurses may suffer from various cardiovascular diseases, including:
- Coronary heart disease: A disease that affects the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle.
- Cerebrovascular disease: A condition that affects the blood vessels supplying the brain.
- Peripheral arterial disease: A disease that affects the blood vessels supplying the arms and legs.
- Rheumatic heart disease: Damage to the heart muscle and valves caused by streptococcal bacteria.
- Congenital heart disease: Malformations that affect the normal development and functioning of the heart.
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism: Blood clots in the veins of the legs that can move to the heart and lungs.
Where Do Cardiac Nurses Work?
Cardiac nurses can work in various healthcare facilities, including hospitals, medical clinics, long-term care facilities, and cardiac rehabilitation centers. They can also contribute to clinical research in educational institutions.
What Is a Cardiac Unit in a Hospital?
In a hospital setting, cardiac nurses can work in different units, including the cardiology, intensive care, and surgical units. Each unit has its specific roles and responsibilities for cardiac nurses:
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU): Cardiac nurses in the ICU treat patients post-heart attack, administer medications, monitor patients, and use intracardiac devices such as defibrillators and pacemakers. They may also care for patients recovering from surgery.
- Cardiology Unit: In the cardiology unit, cardiac nurses monitor electrocardiograms and heart activity, manage medication and other treatments, and educate patients and their families.
- Surgical Unit: Cardiac nurses in surgical units prepare patients for surgery, assist surgeons during procedures, and provide post-operative care.
What Does CVICU Stand For?
CVICU stands for cardiovascular intensive care unit. It is often used interchangeably with CCU, which can stand for coronary or cardiac care unit. These units admit patients after surgery or for the treatment of heart or vascular conditions.
How to Become a Cardiac Nurse and How Long Does It Take?
Registered Nurses (RNs) can pursue careers in cardiovascular nursing after completing nursing school. Nursing school typically takes approximately two years for an associate's degree or about four years for a bachelor's degree in nursing. After gaining experience in a cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU), nurses can be considered cardiac nurses. However, there are additional steps and certifications required to become a specialized cardiac nurse.
Cardiac Nurse Certifications
Cardiac nurses can obtain various certifications to enhance their expertise and qualifications. Some of the certifications available for cardiac nurses include:
- Basic Life Support (BLS) certification: This certification is essential for all nurses and can be obtained through organizations like the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
- Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification: This certification is specifically for cardiac nurses and can also be obtained through the American Heart Association.
- Subspecialty certifications: Organizations like the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses offer subspecialty certifications for cardiac nurses in areas such as cardiac medicine, cardiac surgery, cardiac rehabilitation, and more.
How Much Do Cardiac Nurses Make?
The salary of a cardiac nurse can vary depending on factors such as education, experience, and work setting. On average, registered nurses (RNs) earn around $82,750 per year. However, cardiac nurses who pursue higher education and become nurse practitioners can earn an average of $118,040 per year.
What Is Cardiac Nursing Like?
Cardiac nursing is a challenging yet rewarding profession. With heart disease being the leading cause of death, cardiac nurses play a crucial role in providing specialized care and emotional support to patients. They have the opportunity to make a significant impact on patients' lives by educating and motivating them to maintain heart-healthy lifestyles.
Tips for New Cardiac Nurses
For new cardiac nurses, here are some tips to help you succeed in your career:
- Take full advantage of orientation periods and preceptors to learn as much as possible.
- Don't hesitate to ask questions and seek help when needed.
- Treat each patient as an opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge.
- Review and practice basic CVICU skills, such as ECG interpretation and hemodynamic monitoring.
- Stay up-to-date on the latest technology and innovations in cardiac nursing.
By following these tips, new cardiac nurses can enhance their skills and provide the best possible care to their patients .
Cardiac nursing is a vital and rewarding specialty that plays a crucial role in the care and management of patients with heart diseases or conditions. With the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases worldwide, the demand for skilled cardiac nurses continues to grow. By pursuing the necessary education, certifications, and gaining experience in cardiac units, nurses can make a significant impact on the lives of patients and contribute to the fight against heart disease.