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A nurse assesses a client's electrocardiograph tracing and observes that not all QRS complexes are preceded by a P wave. How should the nurse interpret this observation?
a. The client has hyperkalemia causing irregular QRS complexes.
b. Ventricular tachycardia is overriding the normal atrial rhythm.
c. The client's chest leads are not making sufficient contact with the skin.
d. Ventricular and atrial depolarizations are initiated from different sites.
Normal rhythm shows one P wave preceding each QRS complex, indicating that all depolarization is initiated at the sinoatrial node. QRS complexes without a P wave indicate a different source of initiation of depolarization. This finding on an electrocardiograph tracing is not an indication of hyperkalemia, ventricular tachycardia, or disconnection of leads.
A nurse cares for a client who has a heart rate averaging 56 beats/min with no adverse symptoms. Which activity modification should the nurse suggest to avoid further slowing of the heart rate?
a. "Make certain that your bath water is warm."
b. "Avoid straining while having a bowel movement."
c. "Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks to one a day."
d. "Avoid strenuous exercise such as running."
Bearing down strenuously during a bowel movement is one type of Valsalva maneuver, which stimulates the vagus nerve and results in slowing of the heart rate. Such a response is not desirable in a person who has bradycardia. The other instructions are not appropriate for this condition.
A nurse is assessing clients on a medical-surgical unit. Which client should the nurse identify as being at greatest risk for atrial fibrillation?
a. A 45-year-old who takes an aspirin daily
b. A 50-year-old who is post coronary artery bypass graft surgery
c. A 78-year-old who had a carotid endarterectomy
d. An 80-year-old with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Atrial fibrillation occurs commonly in clients with cardiac disease and is a common occurrence after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. The other conditions do not place these clients at higher risk for atrial fibrillation.
A nurse assesses a client with atrial fibrillation. Which manifestation should alert the nurse to the possibility of a serious complication from this condition?
a. Sinus tachycardia
b. Speech alterations
d. Dyspnea with activity
Clients with atrial fibrillation are at risk for embolic stroke. Evidence of embolic events includes changes in mentation, speech, sensory function, and motor function. Clients with atrial fibrillation often have a rapid ventricular response as a result. Fatigue is a nonspecific complaint. Clients with atrial fibrillation often have dyspnea as a result of the decreased cardiac output caused by the rhythm disturbance.
A nurse evaluates prescriptions for a client with chronic atrial fibrillation. Which medication should the nurse expect to find on this client's medication administration record to prevent a common complication of this condition?
a. Sotalol (Betapace)
b. Warfarin (Coumadin)
c. Atropine (Sal-Tropine)
d. Lidocaine (Xylocaine)
Atrial fibrillation puts clients at risk for developing emboli. Clients at risk for emboli are treated with anticoagulants, such as heparin, enoxaparin, or warfarin. Sotalol, atropine, and lidocaine are not appropriate for this complication.
A nurse administers prescribed adenosine (Adenocard) to a client. Which response should the nurse assess for as the expected therapeutic response?
a. Decreased intraocular pressure
b. Increased heart rate
c. Short period of asystole
d. Hypertensive crisis
Clients usually respond to adenosine with a short period of asystole, bradycardia, hypotension, dyspnea, and chest pain. Adenosine has no conclusive impact on intraocular pressure.
A telemetry nurse assesses a client with third-degree heart block who has wide QRS complexes and a heart rate of 35 beats/min on the cardiac monitor. Which assessment should the nurse complete next?
a. Pulmonary auscultation
b. Pulse strength and amplitude
c. Level of consciousness
d. Mobility and gait stability
A heart rate of 40 beats/min or less with widened QRS complexes could have hemodynamic consequences. The client is at risk for inadequate cerebral perfusion. The nurse should assess for level of consciousness, light-headedness, confusion, syncope, and seizure activity. Although the other assessments should be completed, the client's level of consciousness is the priority.
A nurse cares for a client with an intravenous temporary pacemaker for bradycardia. The nurse observes the presence of a pacing spike but no QRS complex on the client's electrocardiogram. Which action should the nurse take next?
a. Administer intravenous diltiazem (Cardizem).
b. Assess vital signs and level of consciousness.
c. Administer sublingual nitroglycerin.
d. Assess capillary refill and temperature.
In temporary pacing, the wires are threaded onto the epicardial surface of the heart and exit through the chest wall. The pacemaker spike should be followed immediately by a QRS complex. Pacing spikes seen without subsequent QRS complexes imply loss of capture. If there is no capture, then there is no ventricular depolarization and contraction. The nurse should assess for cardiac output via vital signs and level of consciousness. The other interventions would not determine if the client is tolerating the loss of capture.
A nurse prepares to defibrillate a client who is in ventricular fibrillation. Which priority intervention should the nurse perform prior to defibrillating this client?
a. Make sure the defibrillator is set to the synchronous mode.
b. Administer 1 mg of intravenous epinephrine.
c. Test the equipment by delivering a smaller shock at 100 joules.
d. Ensure that everyone is clear of contact with the client and the bed.
To avoid injury, the rescuer commands that all personnel clear contact with the client or the bed and ensures their compliance before delivery of the shock. A precordial thump can be delivered when no defibrillator is available. Defibrillation is done in asynchronous mode. Equipment should not be tested before a client is defibrillated because this is an emergency procedure; equipment should be checked on a routine basis. Epinephrine should be administered after defibrillation.
After teaching a client who has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), a nurse assesses the client's understanding. Which statement by the client indicates a correct understanding of the teaching?
a. "I should wear a snug-fitting shirt over the ICD."
b. "I will avoid sources of strong electromagnetic fields."
c. "I should participate in a strenuous exercise program."
d. "Now I can discontinue my antidysrhythmic medication."
The client being discharged with an ICD is instructed to avoid strong sources of electromagnetic fields. Clients should avoid tight clothing, which could cause irritation over the ICD generator. The client should be encouraged to exercise but should not engage in strenuous activities that cause the heart rate to meet or exceed the ICD cutoff point because the ICD can discharge inappropriately. The client should continue all prescribed medications.
A nurse cares for a client with atrial fibrillation who reports fatigue when completing activities of daily living. What interventions should the nurse implement to address this client's concerns?
a. Administer oxygen therapy at 2 liters per nasal cannula.
b. Provide the client with a sleeping pill to stimulate rest.
c. Schedule periods of exercise and rest during the day.
d. Ask unlicensed assistive personnel to help bathe the client.
Clients who have atrial fibrillation are at risk for decreased cardiac output and fatigue when completing activities of daily living. The nurse should schedule periods of exercise and rest during the day to decrease fatigue. The other interventions will not assist the client with self-care activities.
A nurse assists with the cardioversion of a client experiencing acute atrial fibrillation. Which action should the nurse take prior to the initiation of cardioversion?
a. Administer intravenous adenosine.
b. Turn off oxygen therapy.
c. Ensure a tongue blade is available.
d. Position the client on the left side.
For safety during cardioversion, the nurse should turn off any oxygen therapy to prevent fire. The other interventions are not appropriate for a cardioversion. The client should be placed in a supine position.
A nurse prepares to discharge a client with cardiac dysrhythmia who is prescribed home health care services. Which priority information should be communicated to the home health nurse upon discharge?
a. Medication reconciliation
b. Immunization history
c. Religious beliefs
d. Nutrition preferences
The home health nurse needs to know current medications the client is taking to ensure assessment, evaluation, and further education related to these medications. The other information will not assist the nurse to develop a plan of care for the client.
A nurse assesses a client with tachycardia. Which clinical manifestation requires immediate intervention by the nurse?
a. Mid-sternal chest pain
b. Increased urine output
c. Mild orthostatic hypotension
d. P wave touching the T wave
Chest pain, possibly angina, indicates that tachycardia may be increasing the client's myocardial workload and oxygen demand to such an extent that normal oxygen delivery cannot keep pace. This results in myocardial hypoxia and pain. Increased urinary output and mild orthostatic hypotension are not life-threatening conditions and therefore do not require immediate intervention. The P wave touching the T wave indicates significant tachycardia and should be assessed to determine the underlying rhythm and cause; this is an important assessment but is not as critical as chest pain, which indicates cardiac cell death.
A nurse teaches a client who experiences occasional premature atrial contractions (PACs) accompanied by palpitations that resolve spontaneously without treatment. Which statement should the nurse include in this client's teaching?
a. "Minimize or abstain from caffeine."
b. "Lie on your side until the attack subsides."
c. "Use your oxygen when you experience PACs."
d. "Take amiodarone (Cordarone) daily to prevent PACs."
PACs usually have no hemodynamic consequences. For a client experiencing infrequent PACs, the nurse should explore possible lifestyle causes, such as excessive caffeine intake and stress. Lying on the side will not prevent or resolve PACs. Oxygen is not necessary. Although medications may be needed to control symptomatic dysrhythmias, for infrequent PACs, the client first should try lifestyle changes to control them.
The nurse asks a client who has experienced ventricular dysrhythmias about substance abuse. The client asks, "Why do you want to know if I use cocaine?" How should the nurse respond?
a. "Substance abuse puts clients at risk for many health issues."
b. "The hospital requires that I ask you about cocaine use."
c. "Clients who use cocaine are at risk for fatal dysrhythmias."
d. "We can provide services for cessation of substance abuse."
Clients who use cocaine or illicit inhalants are particularly at risk for potentially fatal dysrhythmias. The other responses do not adequately address the client's question.
A nurse supervises an unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) applying electrocardiographic monitoring. Which statement should the nurse provide to the UAP related to this procedure?
a. "Clean the skin and clip hairs if needed."
b. "Add gel to the electrodes prior to applying them."
c. "Place the electrodes on the posterior chest."
d. "Turn off oxygen prior to monitoring the client."
To ensure the best signal transmission, the skin should be clean and hairs clipped. Electrodes should be placed on the anterior chest, and no additional gel is needed. Oxygen has no impact on electrocardiographic monitoring.
A nurse assesses a client's electrocardiogram (ECG) and observes the reading shown below:
How should the nurse document this client's ECG strip?
a. Ventricular tachycardia
b. Ventricular fibrillation
c. Sinus rhythm with premature atrial contractions (PACs)
d. Sinus rhythm with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)
Sinus rhythm with PVCs has an underlying regular sinus rhythm with ventricular depolarization that sometimes precede atrial depolarization. Ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation rhythms would not have sinus beats present. Premature atrial contractions are atrial contractions initiated from another region of the atria before the sinus node initiates atrial depolarization.
A nurse cares for a client who is on a cardiac monitor. The monitor displayed the rhythm shown below:
Which action should the nurse take first?
a. Assess airway, breathing, and level of consciousness.
b. Administer an amiodarone bolus followed by a drip.
c. Cardiovert the client with a biphasic defibrillator.
d. Begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Ventricular tachycardia occurs with repetitive firing of an irritable ventricular ectopic focus, usually at a rate of 140 to 180 beats/min or more. Ventricular tachycardia is a lethal dysrhythmia. The nurse should first assess if the client is alert and breathing. Then the nurse should call a Code Blue and begin CPR. If this client is pulseless, the treatment of choice is defibrillation. Amiodarone is the antidysrhythmic of choice, but it is not the first action.
A nurse performs an admission assessment on a 75-year-old client with multiple chronic diseases. The client's blood pressure is 135/75 mm Hg and oxygen saturation is 94% on 2 liters per nasal cannula. The nurse assesses the client's rhythm on the cardiac monitor and observes the reading shown below:
Which action should the nurse take first?
a. Begin external temporary pacing.
b. Assess peripheral pulse strength.
c. Ask the client what medications he or she takes.
d. Administer 1 mg of atropine.
This client is stable and therefore does not require any intervention except to determine the cause of the bradycardia. Bradycardia is often caused by medications. Clients who have multiple chronic diseases are often on multiple medications that can interact with each other. The nurse should assess the client's current medications first.
The nurse is caring for a client on the medical-surgical unit who suddenly becomes unresponsive and has no pulse. The cardiac monitor shows the rhythm below:
After calling for assistance and a defibrillator, which action should the nurse take next?
a. Perform a pericardial thump.
b. Initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
c. Start an 18-gauge intravenous line.
d. Ask the client's family about code status.
The client's rhythm is ventricular fibrillation. This is a lethal rhythm that is best treated with immediate defibrillation. While the nurse is waiting for the defibrillator to arrive, the nurse should start CPR. A pericardial thump is not a treatment for ventricular fibrillation. If the client does not already have an IV, other members of the team can insert one after defibrillation. The client's code status should already be known by the nurse prior to this event.
After assessing a client who is receiving an amiodarone intravenous infusion for unstable ventricular tachycardia, the nurse documents the findings and compares these with the previous assessment findings:
Vital Signs Nursing Assessment
Temperature: 98° F
Heart rate: 68 beats/min
Blood pressure: 135/60 mm Hg
Respiratory rate: 14 breaths/min
Oxygen saturation: 96%
Oxygen therapy: 2 L nasal cannula
Temperature: 98.2° F
Heart rate: 50 beats/min
Blood pressure: 132/57 mm Hg
Respiratory rate: 16 breaths/min
Oxygen saturation: 95%
Oxygen therapy: 2 L nasal cannula Time: 0800
Client alert and oriented.
Cardiac rhythm: normal sinus rhythm.
Skin: warm, dry, and appropriate for race.
Respirations equal and unlabored.
Client denies shortness of breath and chest pain.
Client alert and oriented.
Cardiac rhythm: sinus bradycardia.
Skin: warm, dry, and appropriate for race.
Respirations equal and unlabored.
Client denies shortness of breath and chest pain.
Client voids 420 mL of clear yellow urine.
Based on the assessments, which action should the nurse take?
a. Stop the infusion and flush the IV.
b. Slow the amiodarone infusion rate.
c. Administer IV normal saline.
d. Ask the client to cough and deep breathe.
IV administration of amiodarone may cause bradycardia and atrioventricular (AV) block. The correct action for the nurse to take at this time is to slow the infusion, because the client is asymptomatic and no evidence reveals AV block that might require pacing. Abruptly ceasing the medication could allow fatal dysrhythmias to occur. The administration of IV fluids and encouragement of coughing and deep breathing exercises are not indicated, and will not increase the client's heart rate.
A nurse cares for a client with congestive heart failure who has a regular cardiac rhythm of 128 beats/min. For which physiologic alterations should the nurse assess? (Select all that apply.)
a. Decrease in cardiac output
b. Increase in cardiac output
c. Decrease in blood pressure
d. Increase in blood pressure
e. Decrease in urine output
f. Increase in urine output
ANS: A, D, E
Elevated heart rates in a healthy client initially cause blood pressure and cardiac output to increase. However, in a client who has congestive heart failure or a client with long-term tachycardia, ventricular filling time, cardiac output, and blood pressure eventually decrease. As cardiac output and blood pressure decrease, urine output will fall
A nurse teaches a client with a new permanent pacemaker. Which instructions should the nurse include in this client's teaching? (Select all that apply.)
a. "Until your incision is healed, do not submerge your pacemaker. Only take showers."
b. "Report any pulse rates lower than your pacemaker settings."
c. "If you feel weak, apply pressure over your generator."
d. "Have your pacemaker turned off before having magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)."
e. "Do not lift your left arm above the level of your shoulder for 8 weeks."
ANS: A, B, E
The client should not submerge in water until the site has healed; after the incision is healed, the client may take showers or baths without concern for the pacemaker. The client should be instructed to report changes in heart rate or rhythm, such as rates lower than the pacemaker setting or greater than 100 beats/min. The client should be advised of restrictions on physical activity for 8 weeks to allow the pacemaker to settle in place. The client should never apply pressure over the generator and should avoid tight clothing. The client should never have MRI because, whether turned on or off, the pacemaker contains metal. The client should be advised to inform all health care providers that he or she has a pacemaker.
A nurse is teaching a client with premature ectopic beats. Which education should the nurse include in this client's teaching? (Select all that apply.)
a. Smoking cessation
b. Stress reduction and management
c. Avoiding vagal stimulation
d. Adverse effects of medications
e. Foods high in potassium
ANS: A, B, D
A client who has premature beats or ectopic rhythms should be taught to stop smoking, manage stress, take medications as prescribed, and report adverse effects of medications. Clients with premature beats are not at risk for vasovagal attacks or potassium imbalances.
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