Atherosclerosis: Overview (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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    00:00 Hi, welcome to our video series.

    00:02 In this one, we're going to look at coronary artery disease and specifically atherosclerosis.

    00:08 Okay, that one's a mouthful but I want to walk you through this simple steps of the changes that happened in someone's body with coronary artery disease.

    00:17 So we always we start with the definition, it's a great kind of of solid foundation point to start on.

    00:22 So coronary artery disease you'll see us shorten it to CAD, it's caused by atherosclerosis so that's how they're aided.

    00:31 so the atherosclerosis is actually the most common type of heart disease so most people as they age develop some level of this atherosclerosis.

    00:41 Now what the problem is is we have arteries that supplies blood to the heart.

    00:46 That part's not the problem but in coronary artery disease, you start to have some issues with narrowing, the vessels become hard or even blocked to the point that the oxygen-rich blood flow is compromised.

    00:59 When I say that, that means there's not enough blood that's got the oxygen the heart muscle needs getting to that heart muscle, that's when we have a problem.

    01:09 So let's take a look at that.

    01:11 We've given you a good graphic there I love this picture to help you kind of peek inside what's going on the artery.

    01:17 So take a look at the picture on the left.

    01:20 You see that we've got the long piece of the artery there, but then we've sliced it in half so you can see the endothelium.

    01:28 Okay now, around the endothelium we've got the smooth muscle.

    01:32 Look at it in both pictures.

    01:33 See that, it's right in the walls of the vessels.

    01:37 So here we've got a long section there, we've got a slice like a little carrot-sized slice of your vessel, so see where there's smooth muscle right in the wall, and hardening and narrowing of these arteries is what causes the problem of your patient.

    01:52 Now you have this hardening, the narrowing because you got a buildup of plaque.

    01:57 Now plaque is that kind of the yellowy stuff that you see there.

    02:01 So in the very early part of that long piece, you see it looks really clear but as you move down toward the end closest to us, you see that we've got lipids and calcium and all kinds of cellular debris there.

    02:14 That's what gets really hard and stiff eventually.

    02:17 You can tell how it narrows the space that the blood has to flow through.

    02:22 Look at the drawing on the right.

    02:23 That atherosclerosis, has almost cut that vessel's capacity in half and that's one of the reasons why atherosclerosis can be so difficult for a patient's body to adjust to.

    02:36 So how do we end up in this state? What happens? Well I want to walk you through step-by-step what happens over relatively long period of time but we're just going to speed it up.

    02:48 Now look at the heart there, you see that we got kind of that black area? That's to remind you that that's an area where an occlusion happened, where it's been completely blocked off and the surrounding muscle tissue is damaged.

    03:01 The reason it's damaged is because it blocked off the hearts supply to the muscle.

    03:05 So start at the top in our vessels.

    03:07 You have a normal artery, then it has kind of an early injury, start to have the atherosclerosis build-up, and the bottom one is a complete blockage.

    03:17 That's what leads to that damaged or infarcted tissue.

    03:21 Well at the first three vessels we see normal, early injury and then you see the atherosclerosis building up.

    03:28 What happened in the bottom one? Some type of clot broke off, floated to the system and it got to a narrowed part of the artery because of atherosclerosis and completely blocked off the blood supply.

    03:41 So that's how we fast forwarded through that, now let's break down some of the teaching points.

    03:46 so we know that atherosclerosis member sclerosis means "the hardening", athero- refers to the vessels So kind of file that away in your medical vocabulary to help you sort through other words when they appear with those same suffixes or the beginning parts.

    04:03 So hardening and narrowing of the arteries is caused by a build up of plaque, and you saw how that happened from normal artery, then first having early injury then you have the response and then it becomes hardened and that's when we have the partial blockage which could lead to complete.

    04:19 So it's a chronic inflammatory process, that's what happens.

    04:23 So you got the normal, now you see the early injury.

    04:27 Write in there, chronic inflammation.

    04:30 So I want you to have that in your mind that that's one of the things we really try to combat in all patients so we to try to minimize inflammation.

    04:38 Now we'll talk about the processes that we use to do that later.

    04:41 but I want you to have established in your mind it's a chronic, meaning it happens over a period of time and start with damage to the endothelium.

    04:50 Now a complete blockage could be sudden, right? but it's because the damage has been done to those vessels over a period of time - that's the chronic part that you can end up in a high-risk event like complete blockage or myocardial infarction.

    05:06 Now here's what happens, here's what gathers there: You've already guessed that in your mind, you know it's an inflammatory process, but the LDLs - now in case that word's not familiar to you, that's a form of cholesterol - The LDLs crossed the damaged endothelium into the wall of the artery.

    05:24 So we've got it to just shortcut for you over there, talk about early injury and then atherosclerosis.

    05:29 Breaking that down for you what happens after that early injury.

    05:33 So these LDLs cross the damaged endothelium into the wall of the artery.

    05:38 Now what happens is over time, this cholesterol becomes part of the plaque.

    05:43 So you have increased circulation? No.

    05:47 The circulation can become compromised because these LDLs that have crossed over there, they become part of the plaque - thats what narrowed the arteries.

    05:55 So these patients have a higher risk of a cardiovascular event, an MI - a myocardial infarction, or a stroke.

    06:03 Now we've been very careful to lay these concepts down because you need to understand these concepts when your patient start showing new symptoms.

    06:11 Knowledge of understanding how atherosclerosis happens will help you when you're diagnosing how severe, the type of pain and symptoms your patient's experiencing.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Atherosclerosis: Overview (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN is from the course Coronary Artery Disease: Atherosclerosis (Nursing) .

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Coronary arteries are narrowed, hardened, and/or blocked, leading to compromised blood flow
    2. Coronary arteries become dilated and floppy, impairing cardiac blood flow
    3. Coronary artery disease occurs from infarcted cardiac tissue
    4. Coronary artery disease occurs when the heart cannot pump blood effectively
    1. Lipids, calcium, and cellular debris
    2. Lean proteins, potassium, and lymphocytes
    3. High-density lipoproteins and cardiac muscle
    4. Fibrinogen and eosinophils
    1. Early damage to the endothelium leads to a chronic inflammatory process
    2. Chronic antioxidant activity occurs in response to endothelial damage
    3. Sudden lipid-based blockage occurs in the distal coronary arteries
    4. Myocardial infarction damages muscle tissue, leading to occlusion

    Author of lecture Atherosclerosis: Overview (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

    Rhonda Lawes, PhD, RN

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