Matters of the Heart!

A long time ago, when I was working in the Casualty department of Hospital Kuala Lumpur, a boy of 6 was brought in by the brother on a motorbike at 6 am in the morning. The child was wheezing, each breath was laboured.  Our emergency team quickly put him on a nebuliser while I prepared his injections. Before I could do anything, the boy died. His heart simply stopped from sheer exhaustion! He started wheezing at 10 pm and the family decided to wait till morning to bring him for treatment. With no medication, the boy wheezed the whole night and morning before being transported in the cold morning wind on a motorbike.  With the laboured breathing, while oxygen was still entering his lungs, the spasm caused less oxygen to enter and his chest muscles had to work much harder to get the air into the lungs. This put a lot of pressure on his heart and it had to pump harder while at the same time, it received less oxygen. It was like he was running a marathon, not for an hour or two, but for the past 8 hours without stopping and without any food or drink since he was too focused on breathing to eat or drink. Hence his little heart, no bigger than a fist had laboured on for 8 hours and finally stopped because it was too tired.

Our heart beats for the length of our lives and we hardly notice it beating on and on. We do not know what stresses we put on it. The heart is well supplied with oxygen from a network of arteries called the coronary arteries and this is very important, since a slight lack of oxygen will damage the heart muscles and damage to heart muscles means that the heart can never be as good as before since the damage will be repaired by scar tissues and these tissues are not elastic as is the original heart muscles.

While some people are born with congenital heart disease and have faulty valves or holes where there should not be, other young people may develop heart diseases because of infections, such as streptococcal infections and others still may get infection in the endocardium, the inner lining of the heart. Other young people do not even think of their heart needing any special consideration, because you hardly even hear of young people suffering from a heart attack!

In the present day however, this is no longer true. Young people do get hypertension and heart disease!  In a report by the Mayo clinic, sudden death in young people below the age of 35 is often attributed to hidden or undetected heart disease.  Is it then true that heart problems, in young people as well as in older people cannot be detected early?  Are there no signs or early warnings that can prevent the sudden deaths? Among the main reasons for heart disease in young people and also older people is inflammation in the blood vessels, this is known as atherosclerosis.  Lifestyle, nutrition and family history are to be looked into to evaluate the likelihood of heart disease.

While there may be signs like easy fatigue and shortness of breath, many people do not pay much attention to this since the onset is usually gradual and the patient gets used to the state. Other more alarming symptoms could be fainting attacks and severe palpitations (strongly felt heartbeats)

The latest non-invasive method of detecting heart disease is the Esteck Scan which is able to evaluate the condition of the heart. It can be conducted for people from the age  of 10 years and above. Measuring the resistance of different areas of the body using 6 electrodes, the measurements are calculated to show the possible conditions of the heart, body mass and other major organs in the body. Any low scores will warrant further investigations and measures to correct the condition can be initiated. Other than this, the client’s progress can be monitored by doing follow up readings once the changes to diet and nutrition as well as lifestyle have been fully implemented with good compliance over a few months.