Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Walking & Social Support Can Impact Quality of Life in PH Patients

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shutterstock_208709620A nursing researcher at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in New Orleans has found that many factors can impact the quality of life in people with pulmonary hypertension (PH), including mood, anxiety, stress, walking, and the availability of social support.

PH is a chronic disease caused by high blood pressure in the lung arteries. PH may occur by itself (primary PH), or as a complication of another heart or lung disease (secondary PH). In people with PH, less blood carries oxygen to the lungs, which can cause fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath.

PH not only adversely impacts health. It can also have a great negative impact on quality of life, affecting many different areas.  According to the study author,  Todd Michael Tartavoulle, an instructor of nursing, PH can have “a profound effect on relationships, cognitive ability, spirituality, emotions, and exercise ability.”

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The study, which was published in the January-February issue of the journal Clinical Nurse Specialist, included 166 adults, ages of 21 and 80 years. The participants were recruited from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association’s 10th International Pulmonary Hypertension Conference and Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Florida, as well as from a PH clinic. Participants were asked to complete 2 questionnaires to assess their stress levels, mood and life functioning: the 21-item Depression Anxiety Stress Scale and the Dartmouth Cooperative Functional Assessment Charts.

According to the data collected,Tartavoulle measured a statistical relationship between depression, stress, anxiety, a 6-Minute Walk Test, social support, and Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL). Unfortunately, Tartavoulle was  not able to determine the which of these factors was the best predictor of HRQOL in adults with PH. Future studies may hone in on the most important factors that impact HRQOL in PH.

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Based on this study, Tratavoulle recommends strategies that nurses can use to help improve quality of life in people with PH, stating “Advanced practice nursing strategies to increase HRQOL include counseling, psychiatric referrals, psychotherapy, guided imagery, leading support groups, and low-grade resistance training.” Since stress is well-known to impact immune function, which can exacerbate any medical condition, reducing stress and improving mood can play a pivotal role in the treatment of patients with PH.

Treatment of PH, particularly by nurses, need not only involve direct medical interventions, but additional measures to improve life quality, as well as to reduce stress, anxiety and negative mood. Patients with PH may want to discuss taking action to improve life quality with their healthcare providers, including nurses.

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