What Does a Cardiac Nurse Do?

NursingFebruary 01, 2023

February is Heart Health Month, a campaign designed to bring awareness to the leading cause of death for men and women in the US. The good news, though? Heart disease is preventable! Cardiac nurses play an important role in helping people navigate this disease. 

When you become a nurse, you can choose to go into a specialty—like cardiac nursing. Cardiac nurses work under cardiologists and treat patients coping with acute or chronic heart conditions. Those can range from coronary artery disease to congestive heart failure to congenital heart conditions (an abnormality someone is born with).  

Acute conditions like heart attacks or cardiac arrest require nurses to respond quickly with a defibrillator to resuscitate a patient’s heart. Cardiac nurses dealing with these scenarios have to be prepared to handle high-stress situations. 

For patients with chronic heart conditions, a cardiac nurse helps them by assessing and monitoring their heart activity and providing education about living with the condition. 

Cardiac nurses could also work in a surgical setting assisting a cardiac surgeon with surgeries like angioplasty (inserting wire mesh tubes called stents) or bypass surgery. 

Where Cardiac Nurses Work

Cardiac nurses can work in a variety of settings, including a hospital intensive care unit, cardiology unit, or surgical unit. They could also work in a medical clinic or long-term care facility. But most often, cardiac nurses work in hospitals caring for post-op or ICU patients.  

In each of these settings, the tasks may be a little different. For example, in the ICU, cardiac nurses may administer specific medications and use “intracardiac” devices such as a balloon pump or catheter to keep the heart going. 

In a cardiology unit, the nurse may be more involved in monitoring rather than acute care, taking vital signs, monitoring a patient’s electrocardiograms and heart activity, and educating them and their family about their heart condition. They may administer medications, perform stress-test evaluations, or help a patient manage post-op pain.  

In a surgical setting, the cardiac nurse may prep the patient for surgery and assist them in their recovery after they come out of surgery. 

If cardiac nursing sounds intriguing to you, St. Paul’s School of Nursing is here to help you take the first step in your journey with our associate degree in nursing program. Upon graduation and licensure, you can enter the nursing profession as an RN and start on your nursing career path where you can move into a specialty over time. Visit our website or give us a call at (855) 822-3018 to speak to one of our admissions advisors or to schedule a campus tour.