Cardiac Nursing and Healing Touch
Some of you may not know that I am a Registered Nurse specializing in Cardiac Nursing since 2010, as well as being trained in Healing Touch Therapy and Usui Reiki. Because of my professional links with the Cardiac discipline I have a particular interest in the effect that Healing Touch can have on Cardiac patients.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death among Americans. More than 70 million Americans have one or more cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately in our country the rate of occurrence of these diseases is increasing and the age of patients is decreasing.
At present, advanced technology, modern complicated medical treatments and the busy nature of nurses′ work restrict the building of relations between nurses and patients and this causes patients and care providers to become distanced which in turn causes health care environments to become stressful for patients. This can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression which in turn can have damaging effects on the healing process after heart surgery. It has been proven that a high level of anxiety can increase chest pain, breathing disorders, myocardial ischemia and the chance of heart attack. It can also increase blood pressure which leads to high risk of bleeding after heart surgery. Some studies have shown that anxiety in patients with acute cardiac illness can almost triple the risk of mortality following a heart attack.
There is now a growing body of evidence showing that in order to heal the heart, we must attempt to heal the person as a whole. This includes the body, the mind and the spirit. Complementary therapies such as Healing Touch have been found to reduce stress, anxiety and behavioral patterns known to contribute to cardiovascular disease. Healing Touch Therapy is both inexpensive and non-invasive so it has a very low risk to patients and also comes with many benefits.
Throughout my career as a cardiac nurse I have met many amazing people with even more amazing stories, but there is one in particular that stands out to me because the patient used Healing Touch therapy and other techniques to help heal herself and recover from an exacerbation of Congenital Heart Failure.
Linda was admitted to the hospital for a condition commonly known as Broken Heart Syndrome (left ventricular failure), this falls under the category of Congenital Heart Failure (CHF) and she had a very low Ejection Fraction (EF) - the EF is an important measurement in determining how well your heart is pumping out blood and is used to diagnose and track heart failure. Linda’s EF was sitting at only 20% but after only 2 days of Healing Touch techniques it was up to 35% and after 5-6 weeks of treatment it was up to 60%. Linda used Healing Touch techniques including Etheric Vitality Meditation and other guided imagery techniques as well as having distant healing touch and prayer. She also received a blessing and anointing with blessed oils from a priest from her Catholic Church the night she was admitted to the hospital. Her ventricle showed improvement after just 2 days of treatment and was back to normal functioning level after just 6 weeks. Her medical team was amazed by her quick recovery. Linda's heart healed from a threatening heart disease to regain normal function again in 6 weeks.
The use of Healing Touch complementary therapies in nursing is not a new concept. It extends all the way back to the origins of nursing and in fact Florence Nightingale herself described how the use of various therapies such as touch or music would improve the wellbeing of patients. Now, in our modern world, it is so easy to ignore the traditional and focus solely on the new technology that is being developed but in order to do the best for our cardiac patients, complementary therapies must be reintegrated into patient care to give patients the best chance at a healthy and full recovery.
As part of their day-to-day duties, many nurses already perform many touch therapy ideals just by being a calming influence for the patients before or after their procedures but with more training and understanding Healing Touch could be used more widely to help reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease.
Zare, Z. Shahsavari, H. Moeini M. Effects of therapeutic touch on the vital signs of patients before coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010 Winter; 15(1): 37–42.
Kreitzer M. J. Snyder M. Healing the Heart: Integrating Complementary Therapies and Healing Practices Into the Care of Cardiovascular Patients. Progress in Cardiovascular Nursing. 2002 Spring 73-80