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Cardiology: An introduction to cardiac assessment

CPD Hours



Anatomy and physiology
Clinical practice and procedures
Critical care and emergency nursing
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A thorough cardiovascular examination requires background knowledge of the cardiovascular system, a detailed health history and an objective assessment of the neck vessels and precordium (the anterior surface of the body over the heart and lower thorax).

As with any body system examination, cardiovascular function is assessed by inspection, palpation, and auscultation. Cardiac auscultation is a complex examination tool that can be very challenging for new nursing and midwifery personnel. Distinguishing between normal and abnormal heart sounds requires detailed knowledge and experience.

This module will highlight the subjective data required to begin a cardiovascular assessment and detail the objective examination of the heart and blood vessels.

It provides a theoretical basis to enable nurses and midwives to understand normal findings and identify abnormalities.

Auscultation should only be performed after adequate training and supervised practice. With experience, nurses and midwives can acquire the skills and confidence necessary to accurately identify cardiac abnormalities.

Prior learning is required for this module. It is suggested that participants complete the earlier modules in this Cardiology series, prior to commencing this module.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the components of a detailed cardiovascular assessment.
  • Identify developmental concerns that impact cardiovascular function and assessment.
  • Be aware of the subjective information required to accurately assess cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Understand how to perform an objective cardiovascular assessment including inspection, palpation and auscultation of the anterior chest and major vessels.
  • Identify normal heart sounds S1 and S2.
  • Understand abnormal heart sounds, including murmurs and their pathological causes.
  • Complete an assessment with accurate documentation.

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