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DIAGNOSING HEART DISEASE: EXTERNAL EXAMINATION

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT SHOULD THE PATIENT AND RELATIVES NOT DO?

THE HEART'S WORK

HEART DISEASE: VISITING YOUR PHYSICIAN

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT CAN RELATIVES DO IF A HEART ATTACK IS SUSPECTED?

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE CARDIAC CYCLE

SYMPTOMS OF HEART DISEASE: BREATHLESSNESS, HEARTBEAT AND FAINTING

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: THE DANGERS OF THE FIRST HOURS

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE ATRIA & THE VENTRICLES

THE HEART VALVES: LOCATION AND STRUCTURE OF THE VALVES

how to decompile swf to fla;ftp mac os SYMPTOMS OF HEART DISEASE: BREATHLESSNESS, HEARTBEAT AND FAINTING

Breathlessness

Another key symptom is breathlessness. When the heart is starting to fail, a person gets increasingly out of breath after physical exertion. He or she may become breathless even when just lying down. Together with shortness of breath, the sufferer may also suffer tiredness and listlessness, with coldness in the limbs.

Many people feel breathless as they get older, finding themselves seemingly unable to draw a deep full breath of air into their lungs, but this is not the same as the breathlessness experienced by people in the early stages of heart failure who " e over-exerting themselves. Moreover, there are many other conditions that will cause this symptom, among them bronchitis, asthma, dietary deficiencies, emphysema, pneumonia, obesity, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and so on. So, as a symptom, breathlessness is always to be taken seriously, but not always to be thought of as necessarily indicative of heart disease.

Heartbeat

The same is true of abnormal heartbeat, especially palpitations - a stronger or faster than normal beat does not necessarily spell trouble. If you are out of condition and run upstairs rapidly, your heart may continue pounding quickly for some time after you have stopped running. If you are suffering from stress of are worried a similar effect may be felt. But rarely is this due to some fundamental disorder of heart rhythm.

The classic proof of this is the so-called 'soldier's heart' noticed during the First World War and later during the Second, when it was dubbed 'effort syndrome'. Newly recruited soldiers in intensive training will often get a rapid 100-beats-to-a-minute pounding of the heart, together with a dull pain in the chest on the left side. The signs seem to point to heart disease, but on closer inspection it appears that the people thus affected often lose their symptoms with further training.

Fainting

Many people fear, too, that fainting attacks herald heart disease. Again the evidence is to the contrary. It is true that certain severe heart disorders - such as heart failure due to shock, obstruction of the aortic valve and heart-beat aberrations - will result in a temporary failure of blood-supply to the brain and hence in fainting, but this occurs only in the minority of cases. Fainting is a very common symptom of medical malfunctioning, and as likely as not is quite unconnected with the heart's competence.

Angina pectoris is really only a symptom of CHD. For other types of heart disease, one can usefully divide the symptoms of heart disease up into right heart failure, which causes congestion of the body and shows up in oedema of the feet, especially during the day. At night one finds that, because the patient is lying flat, oedema may develop over the sacrum. There may also be enlargement of the liver, which can result in the patient complaining of pain in this area. Sometimes the neck veins become distended and there can be congestion of the kidney.

Left-sided failure causes congestion of the lungs and the symptoms the patient presents with are shortness of breath, at first only during exercise but then at rest as well. Very characteristic is a type of breathlessness which we call cardiac asthma or paraxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea, where the patient suddenly wakes up at night short of breath; interestingly, when the patient sits up the breathlessness usually disappears. Of course, one of the main symptoms of wet and congested lungs is coughing and this cough may produce phlegm. If both the left and the right sides of the heart are failing the symptoms can appear in many different combinations.

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CARDIO & BLOOD