Pathophysiology studies physical and biological abnormalities that occur in the body due to a condition or disease. Pathophysiology is regarded as the foundation of nursing practice in some ways because it helps outline a nurse’s primary responsibilities, such as assisting in the treatment of acute and chronic illnesses, managing medications, assisting with diagnostic tests, and managing general health care and disease prevention for patients and their families. Nurses who understand the pathophysiology and recognize its signs and symptoms can provide better-advanced care.
Pathophysiology in Nursing
Pathophysiology is a discipline that applies to a wide range of nursing duties, mainly when assisting in the prevention and diagnosis of the diseases listed below.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 6.2 million people in the United States are diagnosed with heart failure yearly (CDC). This serious condition is caused by various factors, the most common of which are hypertension, myocardial infarction, diabetes, and heart disease. Each condition manifests in multiple symptoms that emerge as the heart fails. Nurse practitioners must have a thorough understanding of the pathophysiology of heart failure to recognize the associated symptoms and determine the most effective course of treatment.
Although heart failure has a high morbidity rate, there are specific treatment methods that nurses and other healthcare professionals can use to reduce symptoms and extend the lives of their patients.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder caused by increased dopamine loss in the brain. This common disease typically affects people over 60 and causes progressive disability. Although there is no cure, early detection and treatment can help slow symptoms’ progression. Nurse practitioners trained in the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s disease can begin patients on neuroprotective treatment, deep brain stimulation, and symptomatic drug therapy, as well as educate patients and their families on how the disease will affect their lives.
The most recent CDC data (2018) show that 42.4% of adults in the United States are obese. Obesity can lead to significant metabolic, organ, and immune dysfunction, leading to various severe and often fatal conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and certain cancers. Nurses can help reduce obesity in children and adults by recognizing early signs and symptoms.
A pathophysiology is a tool that nurses can use to stay ahead of obesity-related problems. Nurses can reduce the risk of dangerous conditions in obese patients by raising awareness and teaching patients about diet, exercise, and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. In severe cases, nurses may assist patients in managing their weight loss through prescription medication or bariatric surgery.
This chronic inflammatory disorder causes recurring painful symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing when an individual’s airways become blocked. Airborne allergens or irritants can trigger asthma attacks.
Nurses who have studied the pathophysiology of this condition understand that the body’s response includes bronchoconstriction, mucus buildup in the airways, edema, and inflammation. Nurses’ roles include advising patients with this condition on how to manage pain and discomfort, avoid allergens and other triggers, and treat asthma with prescription medications.
Pathophysiology is a subject that all nurse practitioners must learn. Understanding the concept and its practical application provides nurses with a comprehensive understanding of how diseases affect their patients and which treatments are most effective.