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Flashcards in NCLEX Questions Heart Failure Deck (24)
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While assessing an older adult patient, the nurse notes jugular venous distention (JVD) with the head of the patient’s bed elevated 45 degrees. What does this finding indicate?
a. Decreased fluid volume
b. Jugular vein atherosclerosis
c. Increased right atrial pressure
d. Incompetent jugular vein valves

The jugular veins empty into the superior vena cava and then into the right atrium, so JVD with the patient sitting at a 45-degree angle reflects increased right atrial pressure. JVD is an indicator of excessive fluid volume (increased preload), not decreased fluid volume. JVD is not caused by incompetent jugular vein valves or atherosclerosis.


The nurse is caring for a patient who is receiving IV furosemide (Lasix) and morphine for the treatment of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) with severe orthopnea. Which clinical finding is the best indicator that the treatment has been effective?
a. Weight loss of 2 lb in 24 hours
b. Hourly urine output greater than 60 mL
c. Reduced dyspnea with the head of bed at 30 degrees
d. Patient denies experiencing chest pain or chest pressure

Because the patient’s major clinical manifestation of ADHF is orthopnea (caused by the presence of fluid in the alveoli), the best indicator that the medications are effective is a decrease in dyspnea with the head of the bed at 30 degrees. The other assessment data may also indicate that diuresis or improvement in cardiac output has occurred but are not as specific to evaluating this patient’s response.


Which topic will the nurse plan to include in discharge teaching for a patient who has heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF)?
a. Need to begin an aerobic exercise program several times weekly
b. Benefits and effects of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
c. Use of salt substitutes to replace table salt when cooking and at the table
d. Importance of making an annual appointment with the health care provider

The core measures for the treatment of heart failure established by The Joint Commission indicate that patients with an ejection fraction below 40% should receive an ACE inhibitor to decrease the progression of heart failure. Aerobic exercise may not be appropriate for a patient with this level of heart failure. Salt substitutes are not usually recommended because of the risk of hyperkalemia. The patient will need to see the primary care provider more often than annually.


IV sodium nitroprusside is ordered for a patient with acute pulmonary edema. Which reassessment finding during the first hours of administration indicates that the nurse should decrease the rate of nitroprusside infusion?
a. Ventricular ectopy
b. Dry, hacking cough
c. Systolic BP below 90 mm Hg
d. Heart rate below 50 beats/min

Sodium nitroprusside is a potent vasodilator and the major adverse effect is severe hypotension. Coughing and bradycardia are not adverse effects of this medication. Nitroprusside does not cause increased ventricular ectopy.


A patient who has chronic heart failure tells the nurse, “I was fine when I went to bed, but I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I was suffocating!” How should the nurse document this finding?
a. Orthopnea
b. Pulsus alternans
c. Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
d. Acute bilateral pleural effusion

Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea is caused by the reabsorption of fluid from dependent body areas when the patient is sleeping and is characterized by waking up suddenly with the feeling of suffocation. Pulsus alternans is the alteration of strong and weak peripheral pulses during palpation. Orthopnea indicates that the patient is unable to lie flat because of dyspnea. Pleural effusions develop over a longer time period.


Which statement by a patient with newly diagnosed heart failure indicates to the nurse that teaching was effective?
a. “I will take furosemide (Lasix) every day just before bedtime.”
b. “I will use the nitroglycerin patch whenever I have chest pain.”
c. “I will use an additional pillow if I am short of breath at night.”
d. “I will call the clinic if my weight goes up 3 pounds in a week.”

Teaching for a patient with heart failure includes information about the need to weigh daily and notify the health care provider about an increase of 3 lb in 2 days or 3 to 5 lb in a week. Nitroglycerin patches are used primarily to reduce preload (not to prevent chest pain) in patients with heart failure and should be used daily, not on an “as needed” basis. Diuretics should be taken earlier in the day to avoid nocturia and sleep disturbance. The patient should call the clinic if increased orthopnea develops rather than just compensating by further elevating the head of the bed.


When teaching a patient with heart failure on a 2000-mg sodium diet, which foods should the nurse recommend limiting?
a. Chicken and eggs
b. Canned and frozen fruits
c. Yogurt and milk products
d. Fresh or frozen vegetables

Yogurt and milk products (e.g., cheese) naturally contain a significant amount of sodium, and the intake of these should be limited for patients on a diet that limits sodium to 2000 mg daily. The other foods listed have minimal levels of sodium and can be eaten without restriction.


The nurse plans discharge teaching for a patient with chronic heart failure who has prescriptions for digoxin (Lanoxin) and hydrochlorothiazide. Which instruction should the nurse include?
a. Limit dietary sources of potassium.
b. Take the hydrochlorothiazide at bedtime.
c. Notify the health care provider if nausea develops.
d. Take the digoxin if the pulse is below 60 beats/min

Nausea is a symptom of digoxin toxicity and should be reported so that the provider can assess the patient for toxicity and adjust the digoxin dose, if necessary. The patient will need to include potassium-containing foods in the diet to avoid hypokalemia. Patients should be taught to check their pulse daily before taking the digoxin and if the pulse is less than 60 beats/min, to call their provider before taking the digoxin. Diuretics should be taken early in the day to avoid sleep disruption.


While admitting an 82-yr-old patient with acute decompensated heart failure to the hospital, the nurse learns that the patient lives alone and sometimes confuses the “water pill” with the “heart pill.” What should the nurse include in the discharge plan?
a. Consult with a psychologist.
b. Transfer to a long-term care facility.
c. Referral to a home health care agency.
d. Arrangements for around-the-clock care.

The data about the patient suggest that assistance in developing a system for taking medications correctly at home is needed. A home health nurse will assess the patient’s home situation and help the patient develop a method for taking the two medications as directed. There is no evidence that the patient requires services such as a psychologist consult, long-term care, or around-the-clock home care.


Following an acute myocardial infarction, a previously healthy 63-yr-old develops heart failure. What medication topic should the nurse anticipate including in discharge teaching?
a. B-Adrenergic blockers
b. Calcium channel blockers
c. Digitalis and potassium therapy regimen
d. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors

ACE inhibitor therapy is currently recommended to prevent the development of heart failure in patients who have had a myocardial infarction and as a first-line therapy for patients with chronic heart failure. Digoxin therapy for heart failure is no longer considered a first-line measure, and digoxin is added to the treatment protocol when therapy with other drugs such as ACE-inhibitors, diuretics, and B-adrenergic blockers is insufficient. Calcium channel blockers are not generally used in the treatment of heart failure. The B-adrenergic blockers are not used as initial therapy for new onset heart failure.


A 53-yr-old patient with stage D heart failure and type 2 diabetes asks the nurse whether heart transplant is an option. Which response is accurate?
a. “Your heart failure has not reached the end stage yet.”
b. “You could not manage the multiple complications of that surgery.”
c. “The suitability of a heart transplant for you depends on many factors.”
d. “Because you have diabetes, you would not be a heart transplant candidate.”

Indications for a heart transplant include end-stage heart failure (stage D), but other factors such as coping skills, family support, and patient motivation to follow the rigorous posttransplant regimen are also considered. Patients with diabetes who have well-controlled blood glucose levels may be candidates for heart transplant. Although heart transplants can be associated with many complications, there are no data to suggest that the patient could not manage the care.


Which diagnostic test will be most useful to the nurse in determining whether a patient admitted with acute shortness of breath has heart failure?
a. Serum troponin
b. Arterial blood gases
c. B-type natriuretic peptide
d. 12-lead electrocardiogram

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is secreted when ventricular pressures increase, as they do with heart failure. Elevated BNP indicates a probable or very probable diagnosis of heart failure. A 12-lead electrocardiogram, arterial blood gases, and troponin may also be used in determining the causes or effects of heart failure but are not as clearly diagnostic of heart failure as BNP.


Which action should the nurse include in the plan of care for a patient admitted with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) who is receiving nesiritide (Natrecor)?
a. Monitor blood pressure frequently.
b. Encourage patient to ambulate in room.
c. Teach patient to drink at least 3 liters of fluid daily.
d. Titrate nesiritide dose down slowly before stopping.

Nesiritide is a potent arterial and venous dilator, and the major adverse effect is hypotension. Because the patient is likely to have orthostatic hypotension, the patient should not be encouraged to ambulate. Nesiritide does not require titration. Excessive hydration could exacerbate ADHF.


A patient with chronic heart failure has a new order for captopril 12.5 mg PO. After giving the first dose and teaching the patient about the drug, which statement by the patient indicates that teaching has been effective?
a. “I plan to take the medication with food.”
b. “I should eat more potassium-rich foods.”
c. “I will call for help when I need to get up to use the bathroom.”
d. “I can expect to feel more short of breath for the next few days.”

Captopril can cause hypotension, especially after the initial dose, so it is important that the patient not get up out of bed without assistance until the nurse has had a chance to evaluate the effect of the first dose. The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors are potassium sparing, and the nurse should not teach the patient to purposely increase sources of dietary potassium. Increased shortness of breath is expected with the initiation of -adrenergic blocker therapy for heart failure, not for ACE inhibitor therapy. ACE inhibitors are best absorbed when taken an hour before eating.


A patient who has just been admitted with pulmonary edema is scheduled to receive the following medications. Which medication should the nurse question before giving?
a. captopril (Capoten) 25 mg
b. furosemide (Lasix) 60 mg
c. digoxin (Lanoxin) 0.125 mg
d. carvedilol (Coreg) 3.125 mg

Although carvedilol is appropriate for the treatment of chronic heart failure, it is not used for patients with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) because of the risk of worsening the heart failure. The other drugs are appropriate for the patient with ADHF.


A patient who has chronic heart failure is admitted to the emergency department with severe dyspnea and a dry, hacking cough. Which action should the nurse take first?
a. Auscultate the abdomen.
b. Check the capillary refill.
c. Auscultate the breath sounds.
d. Ask about the patient’s allergies.

This patient’s severe dyspnea and cough indicate that acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) may be occurring. ADHF usually manifests as pulmonary edema, which should be detected and treated immediately to prevent ongoing hypoxemia and cardiac/respiratory arrest. The other assessments will provide useful data about the patient’s volume status and should be accomplished rapidly, but detection (and treatment) of pulmonary complications is the priority.


A patient with chronic heart failure who is taking a diuretic and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and who is on a low-sodium diet tells the home health nurse about a 5-lb weight gain in the past 3 days. What is the nurse’s priority action?
a. Teach the patient about restricting dietary sodium.
b. Assess the patient for manifestations of acute heart failure.
c. Ask the patient about the use of the prescribed medications.
d. Have the patient recall the dietary intake for the past 3 days.

The 5-lb weight gain over 3 days indicates that the patient’s chronic heart failure may be worsening. It is important that the patient be assessed immediately for other clinical manifestations of decompensation, such as lung crackles. A dietary recall to detect hidden sodium in the diet, reinforcement of sodium restrictions, and assessment of medication compliance may be appropriate interventions but are not the first nursing actions indicated.


A patient in the intensive care unit who has acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) reports severe dyspnea and is anxious, tachypneic, and tachycardic. Several drugs have been prescribed for the patient. Which action should the nurse take first?
a. Give PRN IV morphine sulfate 4 mg.
b. Give PRN IV diazepam (Valium) 2.5 mg.
c. Increase nitroglycerin infusion by 5 mcg/min.
d. Increase dopamine infusion by 2 mcg/kg/min.

Morphine improves alveolar gas exchange, improves cardiac output by reducing ventricular preload and afterload, decreases anxiety, and assists in reducing the subjective feeling of dyspnea. Diazepam may decrease patient anxiety, but it will not improve the cardiac output or gas exchange. Increasing the dopamine may improve cardiac output, but it will also increase the heart rate and myocardial oxygen consumption. Nitroglycerin will improve cardiac output and may be appropriate for this patient, but it will not directly reduce anxiety and will not act as quickly as morphine to decrease dyspnea.


After receiving change-of-shift report on four patients admitted to a heart failure unit, which patient should the nurse assess first?
a. A patient who reported dizziness after receiving the first dose of captopril.
b. A patient who has new-onset confusion and restlessness and cool, clammy skin.
c. A patient who is receiving oxygen and has crackles bilaterally in the lung bases.
d. A patient who is receiving IV nesiritide (Natrecor), with a blood pressure of 100/62.

The patient who has “wet-cold” clinical manifestations of heart failure is perfusing inadequately and needs rapid assessment and changes in management. The other patients also should be assessed as quickly as possible but do not have indications of severe decreases in
tissue perfusion.


Which assessment finding in a patient admitted with acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) requires the most immediate action by the nurse?
a. O2 saturation of 88%
b. Weight gain of 1 kg (2.2 lb)
c. Heart rate of 106 beats/min
d. Urine output of 50 mL over 2 hours

A decrease in O2 saturation to less than 92% indicates hypoxemia, and the nurse should start supplemental O2 immediately. An increase in apical pulse rate, 1-kg weight gain, and decreases in urine output may also indicate worsening heart failure and require nursing actions, but the low O2 saturation rate requires the most immediate nursing action.


A patient who has heart failure has recently started taking digoxin (Lanoxin) in addition to furosemide (Lasix) and captopril. Which finding by the home health nurse is a priority to communicate to the health care provider?
a. Presence of 1+ to 2+ edema in the feet and ankles
b. Palpable liver edge 2 cm below the ribs on the right side
c. Serum potassium level 3.0 mEq/L after 1 week of therapy
d. Weight increase from 120 pounds to 122 pounds over 3 days

Hypokalemia can predispose the patient to life threatening dysrhythmias (e.g., premature ventricular contractions) and potentiate the actions of digoxin. Hypokalemia also increases the risk for digoxin toxicity, which can also cause life-threatening dysrhythmias. The other data indicate that the patient’s heart failure requires more effective therapies, but they do not require nursing action as rapidly as the low serum potassium level.


An outpatient who has chronic heart failure returns to the clinic after 2 weeks of therapy with metoprolol (Toprol XL). Which assessment finding is most important for the nurse to report to the health care provider?
a. 2+ bilateral pedal edema
b. Heart rate of 52 beats/min
c. Report of increased fatigue
d. Blood pressure (BP) of 88/42 mm Hg

The patient’s BP indicates that the dose of metoprolol may need to be decreased because of hypotension. Bradycardia is a frequent adverse effect of B-adrenergic blockade, though it may need to be monitored. B-Adrenergic blockade initially will worsen symptoms of heart failure in many patients and patients should be taught that some increase in symptoms, such as fatigue and edema, is expected during the initiation of therapy with this class of drugs.


A patient who is receiving dobutamine for the treatment of acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) has the following nursing interventions included in the plan of care. Which action will be most appropriate for the registered nurse (RN) to delegate to an experienced licensed practical / vocational nurse (LPN/VN)?
a. Teach the patient the reasons for remaining on bed rest.
b. Change the peripheral IV site according to agency policy.
c. Monitor the patient’s blood pressure and heart rate every hour.
d. Titrate the dobutamine to keep the systolic blood pressure >90 mm Hg.

An experienced LPN/VN would be able to monitor BP and heart rate and would know to report significant changes to the RN. Teaching patients, adjusting the drip rate for vasoactive drugs, and inserting a new peripheral IV catheter require RN level education and scope of practice.


After receiving change-of-shift report on a heart failure unit, which patient should the nurse assess first?
a. Patient who is taking carvedilol (Coreg) and has a heart rate of 58.
b. Patient who is taking digoxin and has a potassium level of 3.1 mEq/L.
c. Patient who is taking captopril and has a frequent nonproductive cough.
d. Patient who is taking isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine (BiDil) and has a headache.

The patient’s low potassium level increases the risk for digoxin toxicity and potentially life-threatening dysrhythmias. The nurse should assess the patient for other signs of digoxin toxicity and then notify the health care provider about the potassium level. The other patients also have side effects of their drugs, but their symptoms do not indicate potentially
life-threatening complications