Health Tips for Seniors

Congestive Failure and Coronary Occlusion of the heart

Heart Failure {Congestive Failure, Dropsy). The normal heart pumps more than enough blood for all body functions, but the diseased heart may not be able to pump the minimum required by the body, and then heart failure is said to be occurring. The heart does not fail all at once but by slow degrees, and is usually

Fig. 59. Heart or anginal pain (in shaded region) is variable, generally left-sided, also in the left arm. Pain distribution is due to nerve arrangements to and from the heart region. Pain in the left arm is, therefore, usually more significant than pain in the right arm.

marked by increasing shortness of breath, pressure in the chest and a frequent flip-flopping sensation of the heart. Water logging of the body may be noticeable as heart failure begins and body water begins gravitating down into the lower legs. Normal size legs in the morning then become considerably swollen by evening.

Caused by diseases which greatly weaken the heart muscle, heart failure is often a result of childhood rheumatic fever, or in later years, arteriosclerosis of the heart arteries themselves. The physician can markedly strengthen the weakened heart with digitalis-like drugs, and other drugs effective in combating the heart failure, to promote a stronger normal heart function.

Heart Attack (Coronary Occlusion, A Coronary). Heart attack means a sudden block of a coronary (heart) artery by a blood clot stopping the blood flow to a quickly damaged portion of the heart muscle. If this damage is slight, it might even go unnoticed, but if damage to the heart is severe, it is likely to stop beating, with death following quickly. It is apparent that there are many degrees of severity in heart attacks.

The pain in the chest can be excruciating, causing nausea, weakness, pallor and perspiration similar to extreme exhaustion, and the patient may collapse. A heart attack is nearly always suspected, but cannot be known with accuracy until an electrocardiogram has been taken. Possible candidates for heart attack are the fifty-year-old (and younger) individuals, including those who have never known any discomforts or disease. Most vulnerable of all is the person with already existing heart disease who must take extra precaution to spare his heart, and promote as strong and healthy a heart muscle as possible.

The person who dies a few moments after his heart attack could not benefit from any known treatment, but for those who live through the early attack, the physician, with marvelous drugs, can greatly magnify chances of survival. A yearly check-up of the heart condition in all people of fifty years is necessary for sane regard of good health.

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