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This American Heart Month, Make a Difference for Your Patients

A female NP in a white lab coat and wearing a stethoscope consults with an older female patient in Heart Month

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) is committed to supporting nurse practitioners (NPs) in the fight against serious heart conditions.

February is American Heart Month, making it a perfect time for health care providers to raise awareness about heart health. Serious cardiovascular conditions continue to be highly prevalent in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults has hypertension, only one in three adults with high LDL cholesterol has the condition under control and one in every four deaths can be contributed to heart disease.

According to the AANP National Sample Survey: 2018 NP Practice, more than 65% of NPs reported treating hypertension, more than 55% of NPs reported treating hyperlipidemia and nearly 12,500 NPs indicated they have a clinical focus in cardiology. It’s more important than ever that health care providers, including NPs, stay abreast of the latest guidelines and research, as well as encourage their patients to make healthy choices and manage their health conditions.

The American Heart Association has released its annual list of the major advances in heart disease and stroke science research for 2019. Notably, this includes:

  • Research has found a previously unknown driver of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction in mice, which could help lead to new treatment methods.
  • Researchers tested DNA from more than 637,000 people and have identified 18 new parts of the genetic code associated with peripheral artery disease.
  • Twenty-two new regions of the human genome that correspond with venous thromboembolism have been identified after researchers examined DNA from more than 650,000 people.
  • Research has found that children who are exposed to secondhand smoke from their parents were at higher risk for atrial fibrillation.
  • A study involving about 419,000 Apple Watch users found that the device accurately detected atrial fibrillation in more than a third of participants who received notifications of an irregular pulse.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of icosapent ethylas, an add-on therapy to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events among adults with elevated triglyceride levels.
  • People who took blood pressure medication at bedtime have been found to have a 45% lower risk of having or dying from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problem.

Next, find new learning opportunities from AANP to help patients get their heart health under control!

  • In The Essentials: Managing Hypertension in Primary Care, learners will explore recent guidelines and treatments for adults with hypertension and will gain an understanding of the main classes of pharmacological agents to treat hypertension as well as home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) implementation.
  • Review patient selection criteria, dosing and practical considerations for the use of valsartan/sacubitril, an angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitor (ARNI), and ivabradine, a sinoatrial node inhibitor, and learn to devise strategies that promote treatment adherence in Managing Heart Failure: Implications of Guideline Changes for Clinical Practice.
  • For NPs practicing in emergency care settings, Evaluation and Management of Acute Coronary Syndrome in the Emergency Department will provide guidance on risk factors, tools that can help guide clinical decision-making and risk stratification and formulating a plan of care for the patient with a suspected acute coronary syndrome.
  • Review current evidence related to hypertension treatment in older adults, discuss best practices for integrating evidence into patient care and apply knowledge to hypothetical cases in Treatment of Hypertension in Older Adults: An Evidence-based Approach.
  • In Resistant Hypertension: What's a Nurse Practitioner to Do?, learners will review the latest guidelines for treating resistant hypertension in adults, apply knowledge to case scenarios and identify which pharmacologic agents are indicated for add-on therapy after the first-line treatments have been prescribed.
  • Review etiology, clinical presentation and evidence-based diagnosis and management strategies for atrial fibrillation, and learn appropriate counseling and education for patients in Primary Care Management of Atrial Fibrillation.
  • Summarize challenges and opportunities for cardiovascular disease prevention in The PCP Role in the AHA 2020 Impact Goal for Cardiovascular Health, which instructs primary care providers (PCPs) on identifying modifiable cardiovascular risk factors and describing an integrative health approach with primordial and primary prevention strategies to reduce such risk factors.
  • In 12 Lead ECG Interpretation, learners will examine the principles behind the 12 views on the electrocardiogram (ECG), identify pathological events that explain abnormalities and use case studies to gain an understanding of the systematic approach necessary for interpreting 12 Lead ECGs.

Finally, find additional resources to support your practice and bring awareness to the critical need to boost heart health in the U.S.!

Access the Outreach Toolkit from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which includes:

  • Fact sheets for quick insight into strategies to improve health, a calendar of healthy lifestyle activities and other helpful tips for patients.
  • State-based information cards, which share coronary heart disease prevalence rates in all 50 states.
  • Social media images and sample posts to help you encourage followers to be heart healthy together.
  • PowerPoint slides and flyers to be used for educational presentations or anywhere in your community, such as waiting rooms, cafeterias, message boards and more.

The CDC’s American Heart Month Partner Toolkit encourages Americans to follow the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) and Million Hearts® on social media for messages to share. In addition:

  • Pre-plan your social media outreach in February with sample posts, which can be customized for your patients and practice.
  • Quiz your patients on blood pressure facts to help them brush up on the basics and understand how to measure their blood pressure properly.
  • Help your patients understand what hypertension is and why managing blood pressure is important for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease with this Hypertension Communications Kit.

Learn how to spread the word with resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Find sample announcements for newsletters, media releases, emails and social media.
  • See different ways to engage in your community, from celebrating National Wear Red Day and partnering with your local Red Cross to hosting events, cooking demonstrations and more.
  • Share resources on heart-healthy foods, managing stress, ways to increase physical activity, body mass index (BMI) calculator and other information.

Cardiology at National Conference

Are you interested in learning more about cardiovascular conditions, staying up-to-date on new advancements and meeting other NPs who share an interest in cardiology? Register for the 2020 AANP National Conference. AANP will be jazzing it up in the Big Easy June 23–28 — and you’re invited!

From the Cardiology Specialty Practice Group (SPG) meeting to sessions on understanding the female heart, heart failure, congenital heart defects, hypertension and much more, conference is the best place for NP education and networking. See all sessions and workshops and start planning your trip today!

Register Now