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Palpitation and Fainting

heart, treatment, water, action and blood


Palpitation has already been commented on (p. 321). It includes irregular action of the heart of various forms, which produces uncom fortable sensations of fluttering at the heart, throbbing, and tumbling, and is attended by other feelings of anxiety or distress, of difficult breathing, of giddiness and faintness, and so on. Motes may be seen dancing before the eyes, the feet and hands get cold, and then the face may flush up, and perspiration break out. Now it is true that ixdpitation with some or all of these accompanying symptoms attends some forms of heart disease. But it is equally true that it far more commonly is the result of digestive disorders, of poverty of blood (an wmia), and of similar conditions. It is neces sary to urge this very strongly, for very many people are haunted with the fear of heart dis ease, because of such symptoms, when the fear is quite groundless. Nervous women are par ticularly liable to such forms of palpitation.

For palpitation as a symptom of goitre, see p. 288.

The treatment consists in attention to the diet, in the avoidance of everything that would tend to aggravate the condition, such as excess in tea or tobacco. Regular exercise, early hours, and avoidance of excitement should be practised. In many cases treatment for indi gestion, and specially for flatulent indigestion (p. 231), is useful.

Fainting (Syncope, Greek, eunkopto, to knock to pieces, Swooning). —In fainting there is al ways enfeebled action of the heart. It may be the result of nervous excitement, shock, or strong emotion, severe pain, or loss of blood. The heart's action is suddenly and momen tarily suspended or greatly diminished, the blood fails to circulate properly or in sufficient quantity through the brain, and unconscious ness is the result.

The symptoms are paleness and coldness of the skin, faint, shallow, and sighing breathing, feeble pulse, and it may be either quicker or slower than usual, giddiness, noises in the ears, indistinctness of sight, and loss of conscious ness, the person falling to the ground limp and motionless. Sickness occasionally occurs; and the skin becomes covered with drops of sweat. Recovery from fainting is usually not long de layed, and is indicated by increasing strength of the pulse, return of colour to the face, and improvement in the breathing.

Treatment.—The person should be laid fiat on the back, and all tight clothing round chest and neck loosened. Fresh air should be allowed, and cold water should be dashed over chest and face. These means are often sufficient to restore within a very short time. If the fainting fit persists, smelling salts or ammonia should be held to the nostrils. The heart may be stimu lated to renewed activity by rubbing over the chest and by applying a sponge, dipped in hot water, directly over it. As soon as the patient has been sufficiently restored to swallow, two or three tea-spoonfuls of sal volatile in a little water, or a table-spoonful of whisky or brandy in water should be given. If these cannot be swallowed they may, if necessary, be thrown up into the bowel by means of a syringe. In very persistent cases the heart's action has been restored by galvanism.

!`,part from such immediate treatment a per son liable to fainting fits should be put on a course of tonic treatment, as the general state of health may indicate.