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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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High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) And Heart Problems

This is a disease affecting the heart which becomes most noticeable after the age of fifty. Although it is seen at much younger ages, of our 60,000,000 citizens at this age, more than one in every ten has a blood pressure problem and women outnumber the men two to one. It is fact that more people die partly or directly because of high blood pressure than all types of cancers combined.

Fig. 60. Blood pressure in an artery is similar to water pressure in a hose. It is measured by the amount of weight necessary to stop the flow by squeezing the artery shut-exactly like stepping on a hose to shut off the water.

An understanding of blood pressure is basically simple. It is the pressure from the heart necessary to drive blood through our blood vessels and it varies with conditions such as work or rest. We recognize a high and low pressure of a wave corresponding to each heart beat and we determine what is normal pressure from the average of many thousands of people.

Experience teaches us that blood pressure much higher than normal frequently results in a limitation of body activity through easy fatigue, poor endurance and lack of a healthy reserve. There are, of course, many other difficulties resulting from high blood pressure, including headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitation and kidney disease. Also in the background of high blood pressure disease hover the spectres of stroke and heart failure.

Fig. 61. The size of the heart and large arteries may be greatly enlarged with high blood pressure. The normal heart weight of 300 grams can enlarge to 1000 grams. When pressure rises too high some arteries may burst, and in the brain this is called a stroke. Nearly half of all definite stroke victims die within two weeks.

The cause of elevated blood pressure for about one-fifth of all cases is from known disease such as arteriosclerosis, adrenal gland difficulty and thyroid disease. Most high blood pressure however, is called essential hypertension, because the cause is yet to be discovered.

Fig. 62. The evidence points heavily to salt as an important factor in high blood pressure. Although its exact role is unknown, the hypersensitive patient often does much better when salt is cut down in the diet.

The treatment of high blood pressure consists principally in the physician’s guidance in diet restriction, weight determination, drug therapy and continual observation. In no other medical disease is the close cooperation between doctor and patient so richly rewarded as in the treatment of high blood pressure. Like the fitting of shoes, the physician must guide the blood pressure patient into a practical, effective and tolerable manner of treatment, which the patient will accept and carry on from day to day for complete control of this most significant disease.

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