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Heart Diseases


Causes and Symptoms: Cardiac disorders or diseases of the heart are many depending on which part of the organ is affected, but considering the fact that it is an organ which stops functioning only when death intervenes, it is subject to very few disorders.

The heart is a hollow, muscular pump with four cavities, each provided at its outlet with a valve, whose function is to maintain the circulation of the blood. It beats at the rate of 72 to 80 per minute in a healthy adult, the rate of respiration being one-fourth of the pulse rate. The blood is pushed into the arteries and comes back to the heart after completing a circuit of the whole body in fifteen seconds; from there it is sent to the lungs to be purified and comes back to the heart to be used again. A normal heart pumps millions of gallons of blood in a normal life.

If the diseases of the heart are caused by inflammatory affections, they may be any of the following: (i) pericarditis (the swelling of the sheath in which the heart is encased), (ii) mycarditis (inflammation of the muscular substance of the heart), and (iii) endocarditis (inflammation of the membrane which lines the heart). There may be hypertrophy in which the heart is enlarged and its wall thickens. Enfeeblement of the heart may also result from what is known as degeneration. Aside from the above disorders which can be termed organic, the other group of disorders to which the heart is subject are functional. They are (i) techycardia ( a faster than normal pulse rate or palpitation); (ii) arrhythmia (irregular beating of the heart); (iii) angina pectoris (pain in the region of the sternum) which may be due to the narrowing of the arteries because of aging or deposition of fat in their insides. Diseases like rheumatism and syphilis can also give rise to heart diseases. Beri Beri (an acute deficiency of vitamin B1) may also lead to a heart attack.

The two most well-known (to the popular mind) ailments of the heart are angina pectoris and a heart attack. In angina pectoris there is a feeling of constriction across the chest, an intense breath-taking pain, choking, cold sweats and a feeling of impending death. The pain may sometimes travel to the left shoulder and arm. What is known as a heart attack is a generic term applied to the failure of the functioning of the heart which may be ascribed to any one of a dozen or more disorders.

The moment angina pectoris strikes a person he should lie down quietly without making any movement. If the attack comes on while crossing a road, the patient must lie down. Many a sufferer has died when he has tried to reach his home or some other sanctuary while in the throes of an attack. Lack of movement releases the pressure on the heart which must pump more blood if the body is moving. In case of angina pectoris, the following medicines are recommended:

A tola of Billi-lotan (Nepeta Ruderalis) is boiled in about 150 ml. of water, strained and mixed with two tolas of honey before being drunk. One ratti of Asafoetida should be made into a pill, encased in a large dried grape (Munaqqa) and eaten with lukewarm water. For the relief of pain across the chest two tolas of rind of Poppy capsule should be boiled in about 300 ml. of water and mixed with six mashas of Oil of Turpentine. Pads of cloth soaked in the lukewarm mixture should be applied to the chest.


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