Patient education is one of the most important jobs of a nurse. When a patient is sitting before you trying to understand new diagnosis, she usually wants answers. As a nurse you need to know how to put together an appropriate teaching plan that is general enough to be a template for all patients, but one that can also be personalized for each individual patient. Here are a few helpful guidelines when dealing with someone who has hypertension.
Keep in mind that when a patient is diagnosed with hypertension the first thing he needs to understand is that the best way to control blood pressure is not through medication, but through making the much needed lifestyle changes. In general, a patient with hypertension needs to make sure that he is monitoring his sodium intake, watching his weight, not smoking, getting diabetes under control, limiting alcohol intake and exercising. Which means that you as a nurse need to assess each patient for risk factors so you can personalize a plan. It is important that the patient is able assess his own situation and see that there is a problem. The bottom line is that you can tell a patient that he has to do five or six things to improve his health. However, if he doesn’t think he has problem then you might as well be talking to the wall. The patient has to understand the risks and the different ways to decrease or eliminate those risks.
Once you have gotten the attention of your patient, and she is willing to learn how to make the needed changes, it is time for you to teach her how to decrease the risks. The best way to do this is to come up with an outline for your teaching plan. Your outline should look something like this:
Once you have gone over the plan with your patient, you need to get your patient to implement the changes you are recommending. The best way to do this is one-on-one teaching. Some people will recommend that you offer group teachings so that you can reach multiple patients at once.
Based on the risk factors, you are going to create a plan with the patient that she can and will stick with to help get her blood pressure under control.
If the risk factor is diet and exercise, you are going to recommend a low sodium diet. Remember that the patient has to feel as though she isn’t going to be deprived. So take a look at her daily intake and show her lower sodium options. To help with her weight, show her how easy it is to incorporate exercises into what she is already do during the day--such as parking farther away from the door and walking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and so on.
Make sure that you are also assessing the stress levels and stress management techniques of your patient. Stress can impact hypertension. Be sure to also take a look at any other medications your patient may be on. Some medications can raise blood pressure.