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NRS 410 Assignment: Case Study: Mrs. J. Health History Evaluation

NRS 410 Assignment Case Study Mrs. J. Health History Evaluation


The case scenario discussed is of 63-year-old Mrs. J who has been in care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic heart failure (CHF) and is now admitted due to their exacerbations. She reports a history of cigarette smoking, hypertension, poor compliance to medication, and a recent upper airway tract infection. This discussion aims to describe how she was managed, the reasons for exacerbation, and patient management plans.

Question 1

COPD that Mrs. J is characterized by an inflamed airway that impairs expiration of gases thus presenting with dyspnea. The limited expiration results in the accumulation of carbon (IV) oxide in the body which triggers anxiety (Choi & Rhee, 2020). On the other hand, CHF reduces the heart’s ability to pump blood thus irregular heartbeat occurs described as the heart running away (Schwinger, 2021). It also presents with fatigue due to impaired blood supply to the body tissues (Hajar, 2019).

Question 2

            Medications that have been administered to manage Mrs. J can be justified due to their effects. Furosemide and enalapril work through a different mechanisms of action to reduce the decompensation of the heart in CHF (Hajar, 2019). Although furosemide encourages diuresis by inhibiting the reabsorption of sodium in kidney tubules whereas enalapril inhibits the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), they both lead to a decrease in preload and afterload (Lee et al., 2019). This reduces pressure against the heart and also corrects the reported edema especially due to furosemide use.

Metoprolol that was prescribed regulates the sympathetic system activation in heart failure thereby reducing the cardiac contractility and heart rate (Hajar, 2019). As such, it corrects the reported palpitations. Further, the inhaled bronchodilators and corticosteroids correct the bronchoconstriction due to COPD thus promoting expiration whereas morphine helped in reducing anxiety symptoms (Lief & McSparron, 2020). Due to Mrs. J’s low oxygen saturation, oxygen supplementation was also necessary to reverse the hypercapnia and promote oxygen delivery to tissues (Choi & Rhee, 2020). The prescribed drugs were therefore justified and appropriate for managing the exacerbations.

Question 3

            CHF results from most heart conditions whether they affect the valves, heart muscles, or the electrical conduction pathways. Some of these conditions include cardiomyopathy, valvular defects, coronary artery disease (CAD), and arrhythmias. Cardiomyopathy is where there is damage to the myocardium due to a myriad of factors including alcohol use and it consequently impairs the heart’s ability to pump blood (Hajar, 2019). Valvular defects whether resulting from infection of the valves, stenosis, or regurgitation are also implicated (Lee et al., 2019). CAD where there are narrowed coronary artery vessels with consequential cardiac ischemia as well as arrhythmias where the is uncoordinated heart beating such as atrial fibrillation are other risk factors for CHF (Schwinger, 2021). Most of these conditions can be prevented from resulting in CHF.

Different nursing interventions can help in preventing CHF from these cardiac conditions. Such measures include the adoption of physical exercise and dietary modification for CAD, reduced alcohol consumption for cardiomyopathy, and aggressive antibiotic therapy to prevent the advancement of valvular infection into CHF (Lee et al., 2019). Non-pharmacological vagal maneuvers may be applied to correct arrhythmias.

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Question 4

            Nurses play important roles in preventing adverse reactions to polypharmacy. They achieve this through education, instruction,

NRS 410 Assignment Case Study Mrs. J. Health History Evaluation

NRS 410 Assignment Case Study Mrs. J. Health History Evaluation

information, and organization. Education involves highlighting the presentation of adverse reactions and warning the patient about drugs or food that possibly interact with their prescribed medications (Zabihi et al., 2018). By instruction, adherence to therapy is emphasized to prevent incidences of overdose which is an adverse reaction. During instruction, the nurse directs the patient to reliable sources of medicine to ensure continuity of therapy (Lief & McSparron, 2020). On the other hand, the organization is done by arranging the drug into daily pill packs that promote adherence and discourages overdose.

Question 5

            Health promotion in a patient with COPD and CHF will aim at reducing readmission rates and facilitating recovery. To reduce the readmissions, the risk factors of exacerbation such as unhealthy diet, cigarette smoking, and obesity should be addressed. Mrs. J will therefore be encouraged to reduce her weight, adopt the DASH diet, and also engage in physical activity (Hajar, 2019). She will also be advised against cigarette smoking which may worsen COPD. In the promotion of her recovery, the patient will benefit from a multidisciplinary team comprised of pulmonologists and cardiologists who will educate her on pulmonary physiotherapy, cardiac rehabilitation, and adherence to medication (Schwinger, 2021). Homebased care can also be adopted to promote her well-being at home. These measures will enhance recovery and reduce the risks of readmission.

Question 6

Mrs. J is a geriatric patient who will benefit from proper education on her condition. Given most geriatric patients have poor literacy that may enable the comprehension of complex medical information during education, an effective education would involve the use of diagrams and charts for illustrations (Lee et al., 2019). This not only promotes comprehension but also encourages memorability. Adoption of family education can also be encouraged to promote the involvement of family members in patient care (Toledano-Toledano & Luna, 2020).

Question 7

            Some of the factors that may have exacerbated the COPD in this patient would include the history of cigarette smoking and the recent flu-like illness that is reported. These triggers cause airway hyperresponsive and worsen bronchoconstriction, especially in COPD and asthma patients (Lief & McSparron, 2020). Other possible causes of the exacerbation may include exposure to cold, air pollution, and non-adherence to medications. Smoke cessation would therefore be encouraged for patients with COPD who smoke a cigarette. The options to encourage cessation of smoking include nicotine replacement therapy, use of bupropion, as well as psychotherapy such as group therapy (Choi & Rhee, 2020). These methods help in reducing cravings for smoking thus promoting recovery.


            Chronic illnesses such as COPD and CHF have underlying organ dysfunctions that are responsible for their presentation. Understanding these dysfunctions as well as their causes and triggers helps in the formulation of effective strategies for managing patients against these conditions. The use of medications should be aimed at addressing the dysfunction or patient symptoms. In the course of treatment, adherence to therapy should be encouraged as the incidences of adverse drug reactions are reduced. Further, the specific risk factors of the conditions should also be addressed by encouraging health promotion strategies such as a healthy diet, smoke cessation, and physical exercise. This would reduce incidences of readmission for these patients and promote patient recovery.




Choi, J. Y., & Rhee, C. K. (2020). Diagnosis and treatment of early chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD). Journal of Clinical Medicine9(11), 3426. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9113426

Hajar, R. (2019). Congestive heart failure: A history. Heart Views: The Official Journal of the Gulf Heart Association20(3), 129–132. https://doi.org/10.4103/HEARTVIEWS.HEARTVIEWS_77_19

Lee, J. H., Kim, M. S., Yoo, B. S., Park, S. J., Park, J. J., Shin, M. S., Youn, J. C., Lee, S. E., Jang, S. Y., Choi, S., Cho, H. J., Kang, S. M., & Choi, D. J. (2019). KSHF guidelines for the management of acute heart failure: Part II. Treatment of acute heart failure. Korean Circulation Journal49(1), 22–45. https://doi.org/10.4070/kcj.2018.0349

Lief, L., & McSparron, J. (2020). Acute Exacerbation of COPD. In Evidence-Based Critical Care (pp. 169–173). Springer International Publishing.

Schwinger, R. H. G. (2021). Pathophysiology of heart failure. Cardiovascular Diagnosis and Therapy11(1), 263–276. https://doi.org/10.21037/cdt-20-302

Toledano-Toledano, F., & Luna, D. (2020). The psychosocial profile of family caregivers of children with chronic diseases: a cross-sectional study. BioPsychoSocial Medicine14(1), 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13030-020-00201-y

Zabihi, A., Hosseini, S., Jafarian Amiri, S., & Bijani, A. (2018). Polypharmacy among the elderly. Journal of Mid-Life Health9(2), 97. https://doi.org/10.4103/jmh.jmh_87_17


Replies to Barb McGraw

Pulmonary hypertension (PH) or pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is another condition related to the heart. Affecting the lungs’ blood vessels, the constriction or wall thickening prevents blood flow and causes pressure build-up (American Heart Association [AHA], 2022). Pre-existing diseases such as congenital heart defects (CHD) can trigger secondary PAH. Atrial or ventricular septal defects cause a left-to-right- shunting of blood, causing too much blood flow through the lungs, increasing stress on the heart, and the high-pressure scars lung blood vessels (AHA, 2022). It is vital to repair congenital heart problems early, if possible, to try to reverse or prevent further damage to the vessels. Educating patients and families on CHD and PAH is vital to ensure they understand its impact on their lives. They must understand the importance of regular follow-ups with providers and taking medications as prescribed. PAH patients should avoid some activities, such as smoking, certain types of exercise, traveling to high-altitude locations, and avoiding estrogen forms of contraception and pregnancy (AHA, 2022). Preventing infections is essential; therefore, patients must be educated on the importance of vaccinations and routine dental exams. Some may need antibiotic therapy before dental procedures to prevent endocarditis. CHD is not preventable, and some patients are diagnosed as adults. Ensuring patients understand the disease and its impact on their lives, including what lifestyle changes they can make to improve their symptoms and prevent complications, is needed. Teaching gives patients the information needed to make the best health and well-being decisions, and additional resources such as websites, support groups, and community resources support continued learning.


American Heart Association. (2022). Pulmonary hypertension and chd. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/congenital-heart-defects/the-impact-of-congenital-heart-defects/pulmonary-hypertension

  • Torri Scott

replied toBarb McGraw

Jul 23, 2022, 7:14 PM

Replies to Barb McGraw

When explaining to my patients, I try to keep it simple and brief, so they understand. For example, I would start by saying a failing heart breathes too much, and a failing heart imposes a load on breathing. So if the heart isn’t working correctly, it will affect the lungs.

  • Barb McGraw

replied toTorri Scott

Jul 24, 2022, 8:18 PM

  • ·

Replies to Torri Scott

Torri, maybe I am missing something. I did not think our heart “breathes”, I thought it pumped blood. Please explain.

  • Grace Ochulor

replied toBarb McGraw

Jul 24, 2022, 5:58 PM

  • Replies to Barb McGraw

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure are different conditions. But both can make you short of breath when you do something physical, like exercise, climbing stairs, or walking for a long distance. Breathing problem happen for different reasons with these conditions. With COPD, it is hard to exhale all of the air in your lungs because of lung damage, often from years of smoking. If you have COPD, you most likely breathe comfortably when you are at rest. But when you are active, your breath starts coming in before air from your last exhale goes out which causes shortness of breath. If you have heart failure, your heart does not pump blood efficiently. As with COPD, if you have heart failure, you can probably breathe easily when at rest. With activity, blood flow must increase, and your heart must pump harder and faster. If your heart cannot keep up, blood “backs up” into your lungs. This fluid congestion causes shortness of breath. Trying to explain to the family in simple terms.



Carter, P., Lagan, J.,& Fortune, C., (2019). Association of cardiovascular disease with respiratory disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.11.063.

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