On October 27, 2016, Kenner Discovery HOSA was honored with a chance to talk to a medical professional through the virtual field trip system, Nepris. We talked to RN Sarah Walsh. She is a fairly new nurse who lives in Colorado now but is originally from New Hampshire. Since moving to Colorado, she has been doing Cardiac Care. Since our SCOPE (Science Career Opportunities and Partnership Experience) class had just finished learning about the Cardiovascular System, it was an appropriate time for this discussion. She supported our Red Ribbon Week theme by explaining specifically how the heart is affected by drugs.
Nurse Walsh focused on stimulants which can speed the heart up. If you were to abuse stimulants it could cause abnormal electrical activity of the heart and lead to fibrillation. Nurse Walsh showed us how the normal sinus rhythm of the heart looks compared to how it looks on drugs. She specifically showed us Ventricular Tachycardia and how bad the rhythm is. The rhythm is very fast and the body is deprived of oxygen do to no P waves. She also showed Ventricular Fibrillation, there’s no P waves and the rhythm is uneven. The last one was Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia which is when the heart beats super-fast and is incredibly dangerous. Nurse Walsh even showed us a real Ventricular Tachycardia video taken in an emergency room situation.
Next, she talked about diseases that people can get when they use the drug Heroin. The diseases were Cellulitis (bacterial skin infection), Sepsis (bloodstream infection), and Endocarditis (inner lining of the heart is infected). People as young as 19 would have Endocarditis because of drugs! She told us about a 25 year old female who needed open heart surgery! This also went along with another video demonstration of a valve replacement due to the use of heroin. The person being operated on had Endocarditis. Did you know that pig valves can be used when doing valve replacement surgeries? How cool is that! This lesson taught us how drugs could really mess up everything. This could not only affect the heart but people and society as a whole. Drugs aren’t going to make you cool!