Chest Pains: Common Problem Causing Real Discomfort
Palpitation of the heart is a common problem real discomfort in the heart and chest. Palpitation is described as kind of “bumping” felling in the chest. It may arise from a number of different causes, most of which are not related to the heart itself. This is not a true heart attack. Palpitation is often made worse by nervous tension. Anything that increases the work load of the heart may bring on these feelings of discomfort. Some people experience palpitation when lying on the left side, because the heart is nearer the chest wall in the position. Palpitation is a nuisance, but it is usually not serious.
Many nervous people suffer from palpitation, but this does not mean they have heart disease. A nervous person may be unduly concerned because of some friend has recently died of heart attack. Soon minor discomfort is viewed with alarm. Such problems do not arise from the hear itself, but from a highly active imagination. But it would be well to have an electrocardiogram made if the palpitation occurs frequently. If after you have had a complete examination and your doctor finds nothing wrong, you probably have little to fear. But if you do have something wrong, the sooner treatment is started, the better.
Heart block occurs when the electric waves of the heart are slowed down or interrupted in some portion of their normal pathway. In some cases this may interfere with the regular rhythm or motion of the heart. This interference may be due to some serious condition in early life it is probably due to hardening of the arteries. A correct diagnosis is important before treatment can be effective. Hence an electrodiogram should always be made. There are several useful medicines that will improve the rhythm of the heart, but these must be prescribed in the right dosage by your own physician.
Sinus tachycardia or racing heart is an annoying condition, the cause of which is not always clear. The heart rate may increase because of severe emotional strain, heavy exercise, lack of sufficient oxygen, fever hemorrhage, and various infections. If the rate is very rapid (over 150 beats per minute) the heart itself may not have time enough to rest between beats. This cuts down the efficiency of the heart and slows the circulations of the blood throughout the body. A rapid heartbeat is more serious when there is some inflammation of the heart muscle itself, such as in rheumatic fever or coronary thrombosis.
Some mild sedative, such as Phenobarbital, may be all that is needed to control an irritable heart. Some people can slow down the rapid heart by merely pressing over the carotid sinus on one side of the neck just below the angle jaw. This may quickly relieve the attack. Others have found that tickling the back of the throat or pressing on the eyeballs may also bring the heart rate back to normal.
Although this rapid heartbeat is annoying, it is usually not serious, provided it does not occur too frequently or continue too long. If the rapid beating is due to congestive heart failure, it can sometimes be controlled by digitalis. Many people have found relief by eliminating such things as tobacco, alcohol, tea, and coffee. It is always wise to have an electrocardiogram made just to be sure there is nothing more seriously wrong with the cardiac system.
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat often associated with such conditions as rheumatic heart disease, excessive thyroid activity, and coronary artery disease. When the rate is very rapid and irregular they maybe a feeling of palpitation, fainting, weakness, and nausea. When the pulse is very weak and irregular, the blood flow to such vital organs as the kidneys, lungs and brain may be greatly reduced. In other words, an irregular circulation of blood throughout the body. There is also the danger of a blood clot forming in the heart, and fragment of embolus being carried to the lungs, kidneys, and brain, perhaps producing some serious condition such as stroke.
Most doctors use digitalis to control irregular heart. Quinidine is also useful in changing the rhythm back to its normal rate. Although in some cases the heart rhythm may never be restored to its normal regularity, most of these people can get along fairly well provide the heart rate remains around 70 or 80 beats per minute. The patient should avoid colds and all other types of stress, as far as possible.