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Penn Nursing > Science in Action
Science in Action: Specialization Areas
Barbara Riegel, Penn Nursing
Cardiac Health
Posted July 2011

Heart Failure: Taking Care of Yourself Really Works

Healthcare providers have been dispensing advice to heart failure patients about diet and exercise and for the first time researchers have found that it really works. While self-care is believed to improve heart failure outcomes, a highlight of the recent American Heart Association scientific statement on promoting heart failure self-care was the need to establish the mechanisms by which self-care may influence neurohormonal, inflammatory, and hemodynamic function. Christopher S. Lee, PhD, RN of the Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing led a team of researchers who examined the biological mechanisms by which self-care influences heart failure outcomes. "To the best of our knowledge, this is the first clinical investigation of the rel...
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Cardiac Health
Posted August 2010

Stem cells and heart health


When Joseph Libonati was doing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Boston University School of Medicine, he studied the heart functions of superior athletes – from collegians to the Boston Celtics.  “As you would imagine, these young people had great heart function,” said Dr. Libonati.  “My question was, well, why?  And how can we relate that to the average person.”  Dr. Libonati’s expertise is in heart function and how to keep the heart in its best shape – and how to get that information out to the public.  His cardio-vascular research with rodents has shown that even those with high blood-pressure who exercise regularly increase the number of intrinsic endogenous stem cells in their hearts.  “Stem cells are a big item in medicine these days,” said Dr. Libonati.  “In this case, stem cells get into the heart and make more young ‘healthy cells’...

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Cardiac Health
Posted August 2010

Heart health and fending off hospital readmissions

Barbara Riegel, professor of cardiovascular nursing, said that people recovering from heart surgery or other cardiovascular issues run into problems when high quality self-care is not a priority. She said home care falls into the realm of responsibility held by nurses to make sure recovering patients are safe and are doing the right things at home to take care of themselves. "Medical therapy happens in the office or the hospital, and that is about one percent of the patients’ time,” Riegel said. “Most of the time they are home taking care of themselves, but there is a lot to do over that period of time.”  Her research over the last 20 years with the heart-failure population, she said, is an effort to make sure that time at home is properly spent. Riegel said that people with heart problems are admitted to – and re-admitted to – hospital...
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Cardiac Health
Posted January 2009

PhD student awarded Kynett grant


Desiree Fleck, PhD(c), MSN, CRNP has received a grant for her dissertation funding from the Edna G. Kynett Memorial Foundation. Her mixed methods study (with a higher priority on quantitative data study) will investigate self-care in emerging adults (ages 18-25) with congenital heart disease. This is a first study of its kind in this patient population. The primary variable is self-care in congenital heart disease but will look at many variables including developmental stage, disease severity, depression, cognitive function, family function, and self-care confidence and knowledge and beliefs about self-care and adult care. Founded in 1954 by Harold H. Kynett in memory of his wife, Edna, the primary purpose of the Kynett Memorial Foundation is to provide grants that further the "scientific study, prevention, early diagnosis and alleviation of diseases o...

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