Monday, April 16, 2007, 09:24 AM - Medical Issues
The New York Times ran an article this past week about how to tell if you’re having a heart attack. The article described how the popular image of a heart attack is all wrong.
"It's the Hollywood heart attack," said Dr. Eric Peterson, a cardiologist and heart disease researcher at Duke University. "That's the man clutching his chest, grimacing in pain and going down," Dr. Peterson said. "That's what people imagine a heart attack is like. What they don't imagine is that it's not so much pain as pressure, a feeling of heaviness, shortness of breath."
Dr. Elliott Antman, director of the coronary care unit at Brigham and Women's Hospital tells his patients, "Be alert to the possibility that you may be short of breath. Every day you walk down your driveway to go to your mailbox. If you discover one day that you can only walk halfway there, you are so fatigued that you can't walk another foot, I want to hear about that. You might be having a heart attack."
You may also have "discomfort in the chest that may, or may not, radiate into the arms or neck, the back, the jaw, or the stomach. Many also have nausea or shortness of breath. Or they break out in a cold sweat, or have a feeling of anxiety or impending doom, or have blue lips or hands or feet, or feel a sudden exhaustion."
Signs and symptoms in elders are often are less distinctive, especially in older women. "Their only sign may be a sudden feeling of exhaustion just walking across a room. Some say they broke out in a sweat. Afterward, they may recall a feeling of pressure in their chest or pain radiating from their chest but at the time, they say, they paid little attention."
Patients with diabetes "might have no obvious symptoms at all other than sudden, extreme fatigue."
Get into a hospital or call 911 if you are having these symptoms. Medical research shows that people have only about an hour to get their arteries open during a heart attack if they are to avoid permanent heart damage. During this "golden hour" you have a chance to save most of the heart muscle when an artery is blocked."
To read the complete New York Times article, click here.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007, 11:12 PM - Medical IssuesA study in the February 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that men who take daily doses of aspirin or of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may increase their risk of high blood pressure by more than 33.33%. Researchers studied a group of 16,000 men, none of whom had high blood pressure at the start of the study. Men in that group who took either acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory drugs six or seven days a week were one-third more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Dr. Gary Curhan M.D., the senior author of the study, said that people who are at risk for heart disease should continue to take aspirin but that, "Those who are not at high-risk need to understand that there are potential risks in taking these medicines on a regular basis. What is causing you to take these medicines? Maybe there are other ways to reduce or eliminate your pain so that you don't have to take them."
Sounds like good advice.