Boise State nursing student Mim Randall is conducting research to document whether a drug used to treat chronic heart failure may also be effective in treating heart patients who suffer from asthma or other obstructive airway respiratory conditions.
Randall, a longtime registered nurse who is now earning a bachelor’s of science in nursing at Boise State, works in the office of cardiologist Steven Writer, M.D., at Idaho Heart Care at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. She is collaborating with Dr. Writer on the project. The preliminary study has attracted the attention of an international pharmaceutical company which is currently reviewing the project for possible funding.
Randall is compiling patient records to document whether the beta-blocker Coreg is effective in improving the vital signs and the strength of heart contractions in heart patients who also suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Beta-blockers, commonly prescribed for heart patients to treat high blood pressure and chronic heart failure, have not historically been used to treat heart patients with respiratory conditions, Randall says.
The project began with Dr. Writer prescribing Coreg to patients; the drug dosages were then gradually adjusted over several weeks per physician order. Randall compiled a chart review of 50 patients that documented marked improvements in vital signs and the strength of left ventricular contractions since they began taking the drug.
“These findings were very encouraging because they indicated that this drug might also be effective for helping heart patients with respiratory conditions,” Randall says. “It’s been very rewarding to do this research, since it could possibly contribute to improved treatment options for certain groups of heart patients.”
Randall is continuing her collaboration with Dr. Writer on the research by documenting how an expanding group of heart patients with respiratory conditions who are prescribed the drug are responding. Each week, she meets with Boise State nursing professor Dr. Kathy Reavy in a quiet conference room at Saint Alphonsus Medical Regional Center to discuss her research project. Dr. Reavy spends one day each week at Saint Al’s as part of a joint appointment. Among her outreach efforts is working with the hospital’s staff on quality assurance and on using published research as part of evidence-based practice.
“It’s been great working with Mim on this research project, and I’m impressed with what she’s accomplished,” says Dr. Reavy. “Research is an important component of nursing education at Boise State, and Mim is just one example of some of the excellent efforts by our nursing students.”
For Randall, conducting hands-on research has given her insights and experience that have provided a deeper understanding of the coursework she is completing at Boise State. She plans to graduate with a bachelor’s in nursing in May 2008, and she hopes to eventually become a nurse practitioner.