Heart diseases such as heart failure are a growing epidemic in the modern world, with a heavy presence in the developed world. A large number of people in the modern times live with the condition, which means that intervention protocols are necessary. With the number growing every year, nursing profession has become an important field in managing the condition.
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Nutrition is one of the best intervention protocols that have proved effective in managing heart diseases. In fact, the right nutrition has proved effective in managing and sometimes treating the condition. The purpose of this research paper is to analyze nutrition in heart disease in three perspectives- nutrition assessment, nutrition interventions and nutritional education for patients.
In humans, the adult heart has extreme metabolic demands because the heart requires high supply of energy needed for blood pumping. In fact, the heart pumps approximately 5 liters of blood per minute when a person is at rest and up to 24 liters per minute when one is in vigorous activity. In addition, the heart does not stop working throughout the life of an individual.
Therefore, the energy demands are extremely high. In this case, the main source of energy is the fatty acids (Lee, Jarreau, Prasad, Lavie, et al., 2011). However, the heart can easily utilize carbohydrates as well as fatty acids at the same time. First, these products must be converted into the energy molecule known as the Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is then hydrolyzed by the heart muscles as energy.
These nutrients are needed to supply the heart with energy through renewal of enzymes and elements with lipids, fatty acids and amino acids that are obtained from the diet. In addition, the patients need micronutrients such as thiamine, taurine amino acids, vitamins, carnitine, co-enzymes, omega-3 fatty acids and others. Patients with cardiac diseases have deficiency of these nutrients, which means that the nurse must ensure that they are included in the diet.
Nutritional intervention and consideration for heart disease patients
One of the most important things to note is that patients must have adequate supply of energy molecules. Secondly, it is important to note that excessive fatty acids, especially those from animal products, are extremely dangerous to these patients because they are likely to increase the disposition of unsaturated fatty acids in the body, which is a risk factor to cardiac diseases (Lee, Jarreau, Prasad, Lavie, et al., 2011).
As such, it is important for the patients to increase their consumption of whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits that are rich in trans-fatty acids and saturated fatty acids.
These fatty acids decrease the risk to cardiac diseases in the body. It is important to recommend the patients to increase their intake of soy products because they are associated with positive effect on the LDL as well as triglycerides (Olendzki, Speed, & Domino, 2006). Leguminous products such as lentils, soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, peas and chickpeas are examples of sources of plant proteins that contain trans-fats and saturated fatty acids insoluble in fiber.
Secondly, it is necessary to recommend for an increase in the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and reduce the rate of omega-6 fatty acids consumed in the diet. Imbalance between the two types of fatty acids is likely to increase the rate of inflammation on the heart muscles, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (Sole & Jeejeebhoy, 2010).
Therefore, patients must be provided with nutrition rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Products such as fish are excellent sources of these nutrients. In addition, plant products such as leafy vegetables, walnuts, canola oil and supplements of omega-3 are rich in these nutrients and should be recommended in patients, but should be taken in moderate amounts.
In addition, products rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as animal products should only be consumed in moderate amounts. Such foods contribute to the production of arachidonic acid that acts as platelet aggregator, is immonocompressive and competes with omega-3 for absorption in the intestinal cells (Olendzki, Speed, & Domino, 2006). They lead to inflammation of the heart muscles and reduction for fatty acids in the body.
It is also worth recommending the patients to change the oils they use in their preparation of foods at home. Nonhydrogenated plant oils are associated with low levels of triglycerides and increased levels of HDL cholesterol as well as improved ability to control glycemia. Oils that are not monounsaturated such as olive oil and peanut oil must be used in food preparation.
To ensure that patients abide with the nutritional requirements, it is necessary to ensure that they are aware of the benefits of taking the right diet and the dangers involved when they fail to abide to the instructions. In addition, it is important to ensure that they are aware of the types of foods they are supposed to take and the need for nutritional interventions (Olendzki, Speed, & Domino, 2006). Therefore, it is the role of the nurse to provide the patients with the right information.
The best way is to provide patient education protocols within a health facility or at home. For instance, it is important to inform them that animal products are not good, but plant products should be preferable. In addition, they are supposed to be shown the right types of oil they need to use in food preparation. Moreover, it is the role of the nurse to ensure that patients modify or reduce their alcohol consumption rates or avoid it altogether.
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Lee, J. H., Jarreau, T., Prasad, A., Lavie, C., et al. (2011). Nutritional assessment in heart failure patients. Congest Heart Fail 17(4):199-203.
Olendzki, B., Speed, C., & Domino, F. J. (2006). Nutritional assessment and counseling for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Am Fan physician, 15(2), 257-264.
Sole, M. J., & Jeejeebhoy, K. N. (2010). Conditioned nutritional requirements and the pathogenesis and treatment of myocardial failure. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 3(2), 417–424