Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gotta Love Our Heart

( photo source: my Friendster account)

A fellow nurse was reading the chart and droned on about a patient who was rushed to the hospital for chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and indigestion. When she got to 'indigestion,' I said "Sounds like a heart attack to me." She said, "You're right! But how did you know, Cherie?"

It's simple, really. A heart attack's pain is usually on the chest, and in many people, it is found on the upper abdomen. Sometimes the pain is 'referred,' in that it is felt anywhere else but the 'heart' - like pain in the arm, neck or back gets referred to the upper abdomen, causing nausea and vomiting.

Whether we work in a hospital or a nursing home, HEART ATTACK is always one of the leading menaces the staff are on the constant look-out for. It, in fact, is the number one cause of death in the US. So here are the warning signs to help you think and act fast, when you are put in a situation where you or someone else might need help, where the heart is concerned.

Heart Attack:

Chest pain, or discomfort, which may be described as heaviness, pressure, tightness, fullness or acute pain ( One funny incident: I once asked a patient if it felt like an elephant sitting on her chest, and she answered no, that it felt more like a kitten sitting on her chest.)

Shortness of breath (either with or without chest pain)

Other symptoms (may or may not follow quickly): Nausea with or without vomiting (amazing thing is, some can still walk to and from the bathroom and clean themselves, and tell you about it!), cold sweats, lightheadedness, jaw or back pain, pain in one or both arms

In women, note also a persistent feeling of fatigue unrelieved by sleep, and anxious, nervous feelings.

What to do?

Don't joke around, it's not heartburn! Seek help immediately! If the person has a prescribed nitrogycerin tablet, capsule or spray, use as directed! Otherwise, call 911 if you're in the States. Or scream at the top of your lungs if you don't know what to do, to get somebody's attention.

Stroke, on the other hand, is the second leading cause of death in the US, so I'd like to write down the symptoms as well. Most Filipino men by the age of 60, suffer from this, too.


Sudden numbness or weakness
Sudden confusion with trouble speaking
Visual disturbances or changes in seeing
Sudden trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden onset of severe headache without cause

Same thing, don't tell the person to rest, or drink a glass of water or anything else, but call for help! Call your doctor, if you don't have 911.

More importantly, PREVENT these things from happening by: living a healthy lifestyle - quit smoking, eat right, get more HDL (good cholesterol), exercise and maintain your weight, manage stress, and keep your diabetes in check. Some things we can't help if we inherited them.

For nurses and families who deal with these, be patient, no blaming, and include the patients in their care. Some nurses leave televisions droning on and on. Please. Ever heard of sensory overload? And I'm talking about healthy individuals. How much more people who can hardly breathe or have clots in their brains?

Gotta love our heart because there's so much to live for. Just a little reminder from your friendly neighborhood catwoman. Meow.


Icy BC said...

I love this post, Cherie since I did many article on heart issues too.

Coming from a nurse like you, it's even better..

cherie said...

hihi, there you are, Icy. i'm gald to 'see' you on this wednesday afternoon. thank you! i'll look for your heart posts!

Trudy said...

Thanks for doing this post Cherie. It's always good to remind ourselves of the symptoms, especially all of the lesser known ones!

rainfield61 said...

Love our heart.
I let my heart pump hard every weekend. Hope this will season my heart well enough to prevent me from heart attack.

Ayie said...

thanks for sharing this, very informative. we're more health conscious now than before =)

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Great post and great information, Cherie; thanks for posting! I'm so glad you're a nurse; wish I could have you as MY nurse, if ever I'm a patient.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post Cherie---and one we ALL need to print out and read often. Thanks SO much!

carma said...

Great info. Especially for women who usually "minimize" symptoms- not wanting to make a fuss --Like the Natasha Richardson incident.

ladyviral said...

Oh wow.. this is one good post. Yet I am worried... been having this sore on the shoulders hence my post, but lately my arms have been in pain... er... ok i still blame the bed :P.

Great post, cherie. Thanks for this great tips!

cherie said...

you're right about that, mcs. trudy. you take care...

i think you are on the right track, rainfield..

you're welcome, ayie! hey, missed you for a while!

thank you, ms. sandy, i will be honored to nurse to you if i ever get a chance...(but i hope you never get sick)

oh, ms. betsy, your big brother george is living testimony to good health running in the family, so i'm sure you'll live a long life! thank you for the nice compliment!

gosh, that one is such a waste, carma. it made me really sad.

well, LV, i hope your shoulder's all better. don't strain, at work, at play, or in sleep!


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