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Nurses and allied professionals at heart of cardiovascular prevention and management programs

The cardiovascular nurse and allied professional are already at the heart of many management and prevention programmes in heart disease, and Professor Christi Deaton, Chairperson of the ESC Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP), foresees an even greater role given the complex needs of people with heart disease. "Of course, we are working to prevent cardiovascular disease," says Professor Deaton, "and we have seen heart disease rates decrease. Unfortunately some of the gains we've made in prevention may be lost due to rising rates of obesity and diabetes. Heart disease remains a leading cause of illness and death in Europe. People are living longer with heart disease, and they need help to manage these conditions. Increasingly, it is nurses and allied professionals either in specialist practice or in primary care who take the lead in helping patients learn to manage their conditions, and make positive lifestyle changes."

The management of heart failure whose incidence continues to increase is a good example; helping heart failure patients with self-care will be one of several recurring themes at this year's Annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing (CCNAP 2009).

CCNAP 2009 will be held at the Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, Ireland, on 24-25 April.

Joint congress organiser Mary O'Connor, President of the Irish Nurses Cardiovascular Association, adds that nurses and allied professionals have a huge role to play in managing this chronic condition, improving the quality of life for those affected and reducing the risk of hospital admission and death.

1. CCNAP 2009 will present Palliative Care Guidelines for Heart Failure patients in Ireland. "Heart failure continues to be a growing public health issue," says President O'Connor. "Frequently the heart failure population's quality of life is impaired due to their symptom burden and loss of independence and autonomy. In addition to Heart Failure patients having a life expectancy that is worse than that of the common malignancies apart from lung cancer, the disease trajectory associated with Heart Failure is unpredictable. Many patients confront fear of death on a number of occasions. There is an increasing demand for palliative care intervention especially for their physical, psychological and spiritual issues." The new guidelines, says O'Connor, will bring together the expertise of the cardiovascular nurse with that of the palliative care nurse, whose skills are focused on communication, symptom relief and quality of life. Ireland will be one of only a few countries to have guidelines developed for palliative care in heart failure.

2. With more and more patients fitted with implantable cardioverter defibrillators and other assist devices, the nurse is taking on a greater role in helping patients adapt to technology. "It's not just about understanding the technology," says Ms O'Connor. For the patient there are numerous psychosocial issues and the cardiovascular nurse is well placed to deal with a whole range of patient concerns."

3. Primary and secondary prevention remain the holy grail of cardiovascular disease, and in both, whether after a heart attack or in making heart-healthy lifestyle choices, the ultimate responsibility devolves to self-care. "These choices are better made when they are informed choices," says Professor Deaton, "and the cardiovascular nurse and allied professional are invariably in a position to enhance self-care and provide up-to-date information on exercise, diet, smoking and medication. We still need to think prevention as well as treatment." Informed guidance in self-care is an important theme of CCNAP 2009, which will present community models for the management of angina, heart failure and hypertension.

This announcement will be followed by an advance press release in April. In the meantime, we encourage you to mark the CCNAP dates in your diary, and to contact the ESC press office for information.


Contact: ESC Press Office
European Society of Cardiology

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