Nurses can help educate heart patients about poor air quality
EPA and other scientists have made important discoveries linking the impact of poor air quality on cardiovascular health. This connection is especially important for those already dealing with heart disease who might need to limit their activities when particle pollution is high.
But getting the word out to those who could benefit the most can be a challenge. That’s why EPA scientists recently appealed to nurses on the frontlines of combating heart trouble for their assistance.
An article in the Sept/Oct issue of the “Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing,” by EPA scientists, describes the Agency’s Green Heart campaign to educate patients and their health care providers about the potential for air pollution to aggravate heart and vascular disease, and explain how patients can take action to protect themselves. The article is titled, The Green Heart Initiative: Using Air Quality Information to Reduce Adverse Health Effects in Patients With Heart and Vascular Disease
Scientists describe the types of air pollutants that can increase symptoms or cause heart attacks in people with heart disease, and recommend key steps that patients can take when pollutants are expected to reach unhealthy levels for them, such as monitoring the daily Air Quality Index (AQI) and reducing exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollution on days that are code orange in the AQI (“unhealthy for sensitive groups”) or higher (code red and purple).
Studies have shown the strong influence that health care providers can have in educating their patients and making recommendations. For most patients, the frontline health care provider is most likely a clinic or hospital nurse whom they already rely on to learn about the importance of blood pressure, cholesterol control, smoking cessation, and the use of appropriate medication such as aspirin (as recommended/prescribed by a health care provider). Now, these same nurses have another critically important message to share to empower their patients to stay well: monitor the Air Quality Index, and take action.