Sample Nursing Research Essay: Routine Exercise for Patients with Cardiac Concerns

Sep 9, 2021
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Cardiac conditions are among the most common health issues affecting not only Americans but the rest of the global population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2020), heart disease is responsible for 25% of deaths in the country every year. In the past year alone, heart disease claimed around 655,000 deaths (Virani et al., 2020). Healthcare practice, fortunately, has continuously improved over the decades through research. There is consensus among researchers and healthcare providers that prevention and treatment of cardiac disease entail not just medications but also lifestyle changes such as diet modification and smoking cessation to mitigate the health effects of smoking. An equally vital component of these is adequate physical activity. The risks posed by heart disease, however, begs the question of what kind of exercises patients with cardiac conditions are allowed. Naturally, poorly designed or inappropriate exercise routines may cause more harm than good. Owing to differences in disease process and individual factors, there is no single exercise routine that can be prescribed to all cardiac patients. Nevertheless, research shows that consistent physical activity tailored according to the unique needs of a patient can help improve general health and wellbeing as well as decrease the risk of future cardiovascular incidents.

Aerobic Exercise

One routine exercise that can benefit cardiac patients is aerobic exercise. There is no specific routine that comprises aerobic exercise; rather, it is defined as “movements of large muscle mass in rhythmic manner for a sustained period” (Wang et al., 2017). Some examples include walking, brisk walking, jogging, cycling, skiing, dancing, skating, swimming, or even heavy household work among others. Multiple studies show that this exercise routine benefits cardiac health and overall wellbeing in a number of ways.

Aerobic exercise is associated with improved functioning of the heart. It increases not only the diameter but also the elasticity of coronary arteries as well as enhances their structural integrity and functioning, thus improving blood flow and circulation in the process. Studies also show that long-term aerobic exercise is associated with decreased systolic blood pressure. This exercise has also been shown to improve ventricular function in patients who have previously experienced a heart attack (Wang et al., 2020). Such positive effects on cardiac health and functioning, of course, translate to better health. But the benefits of aerobic exercise extend beyond improving heart function.

Aerobic exercise also benefits the overall quality of life. This routine physical activity aids in increasing exercise capacity. The benefits of maintaining physical fitness cannot be overstated, and the same is true for individuals with heart disease. Patients with coronary heart disease who consistently practice aerobic exercise eventually build up a tolerance to physical activity, which in turn means that they also become more adept at performing activities of daily living. They are able to do more household chores, perform self-care, and engage in other physical pursuits both for work and for leisure (Wang et al., 2020). This has a positive effect not only on their level of autonomy but also on their mental health. Family and other affiliated individuals also benefit as patients become less reliant on others.

Finally, aerobic exercise also helps mitigate risk factors as well as lowers the chances of suffering complications, cardiovascular incidents, and mortality. Studies show that aerobic exercise helps patients achieve ideal body weight, decreases bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increases good cholesterol, and (in diabetic patients) improves insulin sensitivity. All of these positive changes, of course, translate to a reduction in the risk of experiencing cardiovascular events like a heart attack. Overall, cardiac rehabilitation by way of aerobic exercise has been shown to reduce mortality by 8-37% (Wang et al., 2020). Findings from these studies attest to the efficiency and therefore value of aerobic exercise as a routine for patients with cardiac conditions.

Resistance Exercise

Resistance exercise is another routine ideal for cardiac patients. Resistance exercise refers to routines that utilize tools and equipment designed to induce added physical exertion. This type of routine “targets the major muscle groups and includes multi-joints or compound movements through the full range of motion of the joints” (Wang et al., 2020). Some of the objects commonly used in this routine include barbells and dumbbells, resistance bands, and the person’s own body weight. One such example of resistance exercise is push-ups, which make use of the person’s own weight. Another is using a resistance band while walking. Like aerobic exercise, resistance exercise has been shown to positively affect cardiac health and overall wellbeing. This type of routine has been shown to: increase basal metabolic rate; increase skeletal muscle mass; enhance strength and endurance; and prevent muscle loss due to lack of physical activity (Wang et al., 2020).

Resistance exercise has also been shown to improve other aspects of health, especially among those with chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. This routine lowers blood pressure, improves lipid profile, and increases insulin sensitivity. When paired with aerobic exercise, this can greatly reduce the complications posed by coronary heart disease (Wang et al., 2020). These effects, of course, lead to a better quality of life for cardiac patients. Enhanced mobility and greater tolerance for physical activity promote independence, autonomy, and ability to engage in more activities. And like aerobic exercise, this routine also reduces risks posed by cardiac diseases, thereby lowering rates of complications and mortality.

Yoga

Apart from more mainstream exercise routines, yoga has also been gaining ground as a suitable routine for cardiac patients. Yoga refers to a diverse set of practices that include but are not limited to physical posturing, meditation, and breathing exercises. It is considered an exercise that addresses physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of wellness (Guddeti et al., 2019). Meanwhile, in their systematic review of literature of randomized clinical trials involving patients diagnosed with heart failure, Pullen et al. (2018) found that practicing yoga’s flexible metabolic demand makes it a suitable routine for individuals with diverse levels of tolerance for physical activity.

Yoga also helps decrease blood both systolic and diastolic pressure in hypertensive patients. Pullen et al. (2018) believe that yoga’s mechanism of action involves the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulation of the vagal nerve, and stimulation of the musculoskeletal system. The mechanism affecting the vagal nerve, in particular, lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Meanwhile, the physical dimension of the routine helps reduce visceral fat. Finally, yoga may also decrease depression. Overall, the physiologic effects of yoga are comparable with that of aerobic exercise, on top of which are perceived benefits to mental and spiritual health. Both Pullen et al. (2018) and Guddeti et al. (2019), however, acknowledge that data is still limited, which necessitates further research. But with such promising results from limited studies, promoting yoga to improve the condition of cardiac patients may prove to be a feasible modality.

Cardiac Health and COVID-19

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020 has caused significant disruptions in the delivery of healthcare across the globe. The spread of the highly contagious virus has forced most members of the public to stay at home, and for patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation, this means inability to access center-based sessions. Fortunately, the advent of advanced telecommunication platforms offers solutions to this predicament. Xia et al. (2018) found that the degree of effectiveness of home-based and tele-based cardiac rehabilitation programs are comparable to that of center-based programs. The results of this systematic review of the literature were echoed by Song et al. (2020), whose study of coronary heart diseases patients receiving telemonitored exercise routines showed positive results in regard to managing blood glucose and blood lipid, preventing cardiovascular events, and encouraging compliance to exercise routines. As research on the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccines continues, computer and internet-mediated modalities are the way to go.

Tailoring Programs

While it has been established that exercise routines are beneficial and indeed recommended for patients with heart diseases, it must be noted that there is no single routine that can be advised to all individuals. The needs of patients vary depending on a multitude of factors including the diagnosed condition itself and individual presentations and prognosis. As Pullen et al. (2018) note, some routines may be too strenuous for heart disease patients and subsequently cause more harm. In line with this, each patient should undergo thorough evaluation by a competent healthcare provider before starting a fitness routine. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Conclusion

This research paper has looked into the various exercise routines suitable for people diagnosed with heart disease. It is an established fact that physical activity is among the cornerstones of a multidimensional approach to treating cardiac conditions. However, not all exercise programs are applicable to the population in question. Research identifies aerobic exercise and resistance exercise as appropriate for such patients. Both types of programs offer myriad benefits such as improved heart function, lowered blood pressure, decreased serum glucose and lipid levels, increased autonomy, and overall better quality of life among others. Yoga, meanwhile, appears to be a promising modality given its positive effects on physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of health. And despite the disruptions in the delivery of healthcare services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, telecommunication technologies offer new avenues for implementing exercise programs to patients. Maximizing benefits, of course, must utilize an individualized approach to developing routine exercise programs.


References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020, September 8). Heart disease facts. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Guddeti, R. R., Dang, G., Williams, M., and Alla, V. M. (2019). Role of yoga in cardiac disease and rehabilitation. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, 39(3), 146-152. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000372

Pullen, P. R., Seffens, W. S., and Thompson, W. R. (2018). Yoga and heart failure: A review and future research. International Journal of Yoga, 11(2), 91-98. doi: 10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_24_17

Song, Y., Ren, C., Liu, P., Tao, L., and Zhao, W. (2020). Effect of smartphone-based telemonitored exercise rehabilitation among patients with coronary heart disease. Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research, 13, 659-667. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12265-019-09938-6

Virani, S. S., Alonso, A., Benjamin, E. J., Bittencourt, M. S., Callaway, C. W., Carson, A. P., Chamberlain, A. M., Chang, A. R., Cheng, S., Delling, F. N., Djousse, L., Elkind, M. S., Ferguson, J. F., Fornage, M., Khan, S. S., Kissela, B. M., Knutson, K. L., Kwan, T. W., Lackland, D. T....Tsao, C. W. (2020). Heart disease and stroke statistics—2020 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation, 141(9), e139–e596. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000757

Wang, L., Ai, D., and Zhang, N. (2017). Exercise benefits coronary heart disease. In J. Xiao (Ed.), Exercise for cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, vol. 1000. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4304-8_1

Xia, T., Huang, F., Peng, Y., Huang, B., Pu, X., Yang, Y., Chai, H., and Chen, M. (2018). Efficacy of different types of exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation on coronary heart disease: A network meta-analysis. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33, 2201-2209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4636-y

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