Nursing Care Plan Angina Coronary Artery Disease

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Patients judged to be at intermediate or high likelihood of significant CAD are often hospitalized for further evaluation and therapeutic intervention. Classification of angina (provided by Canadian Cardiovascular Society Classification [CCSC]) aids in determining the risk of adverse outcomes for patients with unstable angina and, therefore, level of treatment needs. Class III angina is identified as occurring if the patient walks less than two blocks and normal activity is markedly limited, and class IV angina occurs at rest or with minimal activity and level of activity is severely limited.

These two classes may require inpatient evaluation/therapeutic adjustments.


  1. Cardiac surgery: postoperative care
  2. Dysrhythmias
  3. Heart failure: chronic
  4. Myocardial infarction
  5. Psychosocial aspects of care
  6. Patient Assessment Database


May report: 
  1. Sedentary lifestyle, weakness
  2. Fatigue, feeling incapacitated after exercise
  3. Chest pain with exertion or at rest
  4. Awakened by chest pain

May exhibit:
Exertional dyspnea


May report: 
History of heart disease, hypertension, obesity in self/family

May exhibit: 
  1. Tachycardia, dysrhythmias
  2. Blood pressure normal, elevated, or decreased
  3. Heart sounds: May be normal; late S4 or transient late systolic murmur (papillary muscledysfunction) may be evident during pain
  4. Moist, cool, pale skin/mucous membranes in presence of vasoconstriction


May report: 
Stressors of work, family, others

May exhibit: 
Apprehension, uneasiness


May report: 
  1. Nausea, “heartburn”/epigastric distress with eating
  2. Diet high in cholesterol/fats, salt, caffeine, liquor

May exhibit: 
Belching, gastric distension


May report: 
  1. Substernal or anterior chest pain that may radiate to jaw, neck, shoulders, and upper extremities (to left side more than right)
  2. Quality: Varies from transient/mild to moderate, heavy pressure, tightness, squeezing, burning
  3. Duration: Usually less than 15 min, rarely more than 30 min (average 3 min)
  4. Precipitating factors: Physical exertion or great emotion, such as anger or sexual arousal; exercise in weather extremes; or may be unpredictable and/or occur during rest or sleep in unstable angina
  5. Relieving factors: Pain may be responsive to particular relief mechanisms (e.g., rest, antianginal medications)
  6. New or ongoing chest pain that has changed in frequency, duration, character, or predictability (i.e., unstable, variant, Prinzmetal’s)

May exhibit: 
  1. Facial grimacing, placing fist over midsternum, rubbing left arm, muscle tension, restlessness
  2. Autonomic responses, e.g., tachycardia, blood pressure changes

May report: 
  1. Dyspnea worse with exertion
  2. History of smoking

May exhibit: 
Respirations: Increased rate/rhythm and alteration in depth


May report: 
  1. Family history or risk factors of CAD, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cigarette smoking, hyperlipidemia
  2. Use/misuse of cardiac, hypertensive, or OTC drugs
  3. Regular alcohol use, illicit drug use, e.g., cocaine, amphetamines
  4. Discharge plan DRG projected mean length of inpatient stay: 3.2–4.2 days considerations: Alteration in medication use/therapy
  5. Assistance with homemaker/maintenance tasks
  6. Changes in physical layout of home
  7. Refer to section at end of plan for postdischarge considerations.


  1. ECG: Often normal when patient at rest or when pain-free; depression of the ST segment or T wave inversion signifies ischemia. Dysrhythmias and heart block may also be present. Significant Q waves are consistent with a prior MI.
  2. 24-hour ECG monitoring (Holter): Done to see whether pain episodes correlate with or change during exercise or activity. ST depression without pain is highly indicative of ischemia.
  3. Exercise or pharmacological stress electrocardiography: Provides more diagnostic information, such as duration and level of activity attained before onset of angina. A markedly positive test is indicative of severe CAD. Note:
  4. Studies have shown stress echo studies to be more accurate in some groups than exercise stress testing alone.
  5. Cardiac enzymes (AST, CPK, CK and CK-MB; LDH and isoenzymes LD1, LD2): Usually within normal limits (WNL); elevation indicates myocardial damage.
  6. Chest x-ray: Usually normal; however, infiltrates may be present, reflecting cardiac decompensation or pulmonary complications.
  7. PCO2, potassium, and myocardial lactate: May be elevated during anginal attack (all play a role in myocardial ischemia and may perpetuate it).
  8. Serum lipids (total lipids, lipoprotein electrophoresis, and isoenzymes cholesterols [HDL, LDL, VLDL]; triglycerides; phospholipids): May be elevated (CAD risk factor).
  9. Echocardiogram: May reveal abnormal valvular action as cause of chest pain.
  10. Nuclear imaging studies (rest or stress scan): Thallium-201: Ischemic regions appear as areas of decreased thallium uptake.
  11. MUGA: Evaluates specific and general ventricle performance, regional wall motion, and ejection fraction.
  12. Cardiac catheterization with angiography: Definitive test for CAD in patients with known ischemic disease with angina or incapacitating chest pain, in patients with cholesterolemia and familial heart disease who are experiencing chest pain, and in patients with abnormal resting ECGs. Abnormal results are present in valvular disease, altered contractility, ventricular failure, and circulatory abnormalities. Note: Ten percent of patients with unstable angina have normal-appearing coronary arteries.
  13. Ergonovine (Ergotrate) injection: On occasion, may be used for patients who have angina at rest to demonstrate hyperspastic coronary vessels. (Patients with resting angina usually experience chest pain, ST elevation, or depression and/or pronounced rise in left ventricular end-diastolic pressure [LVEDP], fall in systemic systolic pressure, and/or high-grade coronary artery narrowing. Some patients may also have severe ventricular dysrhythmias.)


  1. Relieve/control pain.
  2. Prevent/minimize development of myocardial complications.
  3. Provide information about disease process/prognosis and treatment.
  4. Support patient/SO in initiating necessary lifestyle/behavioral changes.


  1. Achieves desired activity level; meets self-care needs with minimal or no pain.
  2. Free of complications.
  3. Disease process/prognosis and therapeutic regimen understood.
  4. Participating in treatment program, behavioral changes.
  5. Plan in place to meet needs after discharge.

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