Case Study Coronary Artery Disease and Pacemakers

Case Study Coronary Artery Disease and Pacemakers: It is midmorning on the cardiac unit where you work, and you are getting a new patient. G.P. is a 60-year- old…

Case Study Coronary Artery Disease and Pacemakers

Case Study Coronary Artery Disease and Pacemakers

Difficulty: Intermediate

Setting: Hospital, outpatient cardiac rehabilitation

Index Words: coronary artery disease (CAD), hypertension (HTN), angina, lifestyle modification, medications, laboratory values, assessment, risk factors, pacemaker, ECG strip, atrial fibrillation, graded exercise (stress) test

Giddens Concepts: Caregiving, Perfusion, Patient Education

HESI Concepts: Assessment, Caregiving, Perfusion, Patient Education

It is midmorning on the cardiac unit where you work, and you are getting a new patient. G.P. is a 60-year- old retired businessman who is married and has three grown children. As you take his health history, he tells you that he began feeling changes in his chest about 10 days ago. He has hypertension (HTN) and a 5-year history of angina pectoris. During the past week, he has had frequent episodes of mid-chest discomfort. The chest pain responds to nitroglycerin (NTG), which he has taken sublingually about 8 to 10 times over the past week. During the week, he has also experienced increased fatigue. He states, “I just feel crappy all the time.” A cardiac catheterization done several years ago revealed 50% stenosis of the right coronary artery (RCA) and 50% stenosis of the left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery. He tells you that both his mother and his father had coronary artery disease (CAD). He is currently taking amlodipine (Norvasc), metoprolol (Lopressor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), and aspirin 81 mg/day.

· Scenario

1. What other information are you going to obtain about his episodes of chest pain?

2. What are common sites for radiation of ischemic cardiac pain?

3. You know that G.P. has atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries. You need to know his risk factors for CAD to plan teaching for lifestyle modifications. What will you ask him about?

4. Although he has been taking sublingual nitroglycerin (SL NTG) for a long time, you want to be certain he is using it correctly. Which actions are correct when taking SL NTG for chest pain? (Select all that apply.)

a. Stop the activity and lie or sit down.

b. Call 911 immediately.

c. Call 911 if the pain is not relieved after taking one SL tablet.

d. Call 911 if the pain is not relieved after taking three SL tablets, 5 minutes apart.

e. Chew the tablet slowly then swallow.

f. Place the NTG tablet under the tongue.

5. You review the use and storage of SL NTG with G.P. Which statement by G.P. indicates a need for further education? Explain your answer.

a. “I will discard any open bottle of nitroglycerin after a year.”

b. “I will not store other pills in the nitroglycerin bottle.”

c. “I carry the tablets with me at all times.”

d. “I will keep the pills in their original brown bottle.”


When you first admit G.P., you place him on telemetry and observe his cardiac rhythm.

6. Identify the rhythm:

1 Cardiovascular Disorders

7. Explain the primary complication that could occur if this heart rhythm were not treated.

8. Review G.P.’s history. What conditions may have contributed to the development of this dysrhythmia?

9. You review G.P.’s laboratory test results and note that all of them are within normal range, including troponin and creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) levels. His potassium level is 4.7 mEq/L. Given this and his current dysrhythmia, what is the likely cause of the symptoms he has been experiencing this past week?


Within the hour, G.P. converts with intravenous diltiazem (Cardizem) to sick sinus syndrome with long sinus pauses that cause lightheadedness and hypotension.

10. What risks does the new rhythm pose for G.P.? Explain the reasons for your answers.


Because G.P.’s dysrhythmia is causing unacceptable symptoms, he is taken to surgery and a permanent DDDR pacemaker is placed and set at a rate of 70 beats/min.

11. What does the code DDDR mean?

12. The pacemaker insertion surgery places G.P. at risk for several serious complications. List three potential problems that you will monitor for as you care for him.

13. G.P. will need some education regarding his new pacemaker. What information will you give him before he leaves the hospital?

14. G.P.’s wife approaches you and anxiously inquires, “My neighbor saw this science fiction movie about this guy who got a pacemaker and then he couldn’t die. Is that for real?” How are you going to respond to her?

15. G.P. and his wife tell you they have heard that people with pacemakers can have their hearts stop because of microwave ovens and cell phones. Where can you help them find more information?


After discharge, G.P. is referred to a cardiac rehabilitation center to start an exercise program. He will be exercise tested, and an individualized exercise prescription will be developed for him, based on the results of the exercise test.

16. What information will be obtained from a graded exercise (stress) test, and what is included in an exercise prescription?

1 Cardiovascular Disorders

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Cathy, CS.