Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Student Scholarship

Date Written

Summer 2015

Document Type


Course Number

NURS 5330

Course Name

Advanced Pathophysiology

Professor’s Name

John D. Chovan, James R. Cacchillo


Heart Diseases, Pacer Wires, Pericarditis

Subject Categories

Cardiovascular Diseases | Medical Pathology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing


The topic the author chose to research is cardiac tamponade. Cardiac tamponade occurs when fluid builds up in the pericardial cavity, which is the cavity that surrounds the heart. Cardiac tamponade can occur due to various reasons, including myocardial infarctions, pericarditis, traumas, and placement of pacer wires. Palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath are common symptoms that occur with cardiac tamponade. Pericardiocentesis and a pericardial window are two interventions that are commonly used to treat cardiac tamponade. Cardiac tamponade is a medical emergency and without any intervention, may lead to cardiac arrest and possible death. The author chose cardiac tamponade because she has some past knowledge of the condition. The author previously worked on a cardiac step-down unit and would care for patients that had had pericardial windows performed. Currently, the author works in an emergency department. Two weeks ago, the author assisted another nurse in caring for a patient who was being treated for a heartrate of 18 beats per minute. Transcutaneous pacing was not effective. The cardiologist on call placed a tranvenous pacer while the patient was still in the emergency room. Cardiac tamponade is relevant to the author’s nursing practice because the author knows the condition could result from the placement of the pacer wires.



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