The nurse is caring for a patient in the early stages of heart failure. The family is curious as to how the body adapts to heart failure. The nurse knows that during the early stages of heart failure, which specific compensatory mechanisms occur?


• As arterial blood pressure falls, baroreceptors of the carotid and aorta are stimulated. This causes a sympathetic release of catecholamines, resulting in vasoconstriction and an increased heart rate to compensate.

• The compensatory mechanism increases peripheral vascular resistance and also the workload of the heart. This can worsen heart failure if not treated.

• Incorrect: Decreased cardiac output will increase ADH release, leading to fluid retention.

• Incorrect: Impaired renal perfusion will stimulate aldosterone release, leading to additional fluid and sodium retention.

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