Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for June, 2006

Disease of the heart – Heart Block and Angina Pectoris

Heart Block. This is easily identified. The heartbeat is regular like marching feet, but one beat is missed out of a regular sequence. The missed beat may be noticed after every twenty-four regular beats, or possibly after every five beats; the more

Fig. 58. Heart block is heart beat irregularity in which a single heart beat is blocked out every fourth beat, third beat or any regular number of beats.

frequent the missed beat, the more serious the heart block. This is a disease of senior years, and the physician’s help should be of great value here.

Angina Pectoris. Angina pectoris is a heart pain of a come and go nature, varying from a mild pressure sensation to an agonizing chest pain, and frequently extending into the left arm. It is brought on by conditions forcing the heart to work harder, as effort, excitement, heavy meals, and cold weather. It is relieved by rest. The exertion that will cause chest pain to appear is usually known to the patient. Thus, he can predict that walking up a two block hill will almost routinely bring about chest pain and require a five minute rest for relief.

Angina pain is a cry from the heart muscle for more blood. The normal heart artery can carry an excess of blood to the hard-working heart muscle, but the arteries in angina are considerably closed by spasms or hardening arteriosclerotic disease. Heavy emotion, high tension and aged arteries are all suspected of magnifying pain of angina pectoris, so it is wise to eliminate excitement, and to spare the heart any sudden periods of great work. In angina pectoris, the head must rule the heart. The physician frequently prescribes certain drugs effective in relief of pain by relieving narrowing spasm in the heart artery.

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Tachycardia and Fibrillation of the Heart

Tachycardia (Fast Heart). In this condition, the heartbeat rate speeds up two or three times the normal rate. It is often found in young people with no serious heart disease, but who are frequently bothered with these uncomfortable and terrifying attacks. Relief is often obtained by taking and holding a deep breath or firmly massaging the side of the neck and still another


Fig. 56. Tachycardia is temporary rapid speed-up of the heart beat. It may be twice the normal rate, start up at any time and last minutes or hours, stopping as suddenly as it started.

way is drinking something cold. While tachycardia is usually not serious, there may be some important underlying factors involved and if the attacks are frequent, the physician should be consulted to follow any necessary precautions.

Fibrillation of the Heart. This means a loss of all regularity to the heartbeat and the heart rate becomes similar to falling rain drops. If the heartbeat is anything like marching feet, it is not fibrillation.


Fig. 57. Fibrillation is heart-beat irregularity with no semblance of “bouncing ball” rhythm. Irregular as rain on the roof, it may go on for years, with questionable significance.

his heartbeat irregularity can be temporary or permanent, and is often related to other disease, possibly within the heart as in rheumatic heart disease, or completely outside of the heart, as in thyroid disease. Sometimes fibrillation can go on for years with no apparent ill effect, but certain dangers are constantly present in these hearts. Regaining a regular heart beat is possible if associated disease is cured, otherwise useful drugs are available which may greatly benefit the heart action in spite of continued fibrillation.

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