Thursday, July 23, 2009

You Could Drop Dead

I'm not trying to scare you,but that was the essence of what an article in last weekend's Good weekend magazine was trying to convey.Now Good Weekend magazine is an insert into the weekend edition of Sydney Morning Herald and me and the wife have this tradition of reading the Saturday paper over breakfast.....either at home or in a Cafe'.Due to space restrictions in a Cafe', we end up reading the paper mostly at home.
Now this article caught my attention.It said about perfectly normal and healthy young adults who dropped dead.It said about a young athletic bloke who came out of the shower,towel wrapped around himself and was found on the dead bed.Also there was a young guy was jogging and dropped dead and many others who seemingly had no health conditions,but just died....suddenly.All of them had a common cause of death and post-mortem revealed it as Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy(HCM).It is a silent and quick killer.From what I understood,all these people had a hereditary condition due to which their heart muscles thickened and at some stage caused a cardiac arrest.

One school teacher also had a similar attack but she survived as her co-teacher and two other students had all been trained in CPR(resuscitation),I think it stands for cardio pulmonary resuscitation.Anyway,she was lucky that they revived her till the paramedics got there.She still goes about her life normally,with a defibrillator installed inside here.In future if she ever had a cardiac arrest,this device would give her multiple electric shocks.The experience has been described as feeling 'like being kicked in the face by a horse'.Fortunately this lady didn't have an attack after that.Defibrillation must begin immediately. Your chances for survival decline by 10% for every minute that passes without your heart receiving an electrical shock. After 10 minutes your chances for survival are less than 1%. The national average response time from the time you call a paramedic to the time the paramedics arrive is 10 minutes.So,a person who's just suffered an attack cannot wait for ambulance to arrive and defibrillation must have begun.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes excessively thick. Hypertrophic means "excessive growth" and cardiomyopathy means, "heart muscle disease." The thickening affects the walls of the two main pumping chambers of the heart, called the ventricles. The right ventricle pumps blood from the body to the lungs, and the left ventricle pumps blood from the lungs to the body. The heart muscle thickening may occur in the ventricular septum, the muscular wall that separates the left and right ventricles. It can also occur in areas other than the septum, such as the apex (tip) of the ventricles, the right ventricle, or the entire left ventricular wall. In general, the effects of HCM are much more prominent in the left ventricle than the right.

For various reasons, HCM causes the heart's blood-pumping function to become less effective. Left untreated, this can lead to congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to meet the body's needs, resulting in shortness of breath, fluid buildup in the legs, fatigue, and other symptoms.

Now,what was scary was that anyone could have this condition and not know about it.So to be on the safe side,it's suggested to have a cardiac check up where it can be determined if you have the condition or not.God forbid if you do,then the next best step can be suggested by the specialist. It was said that genes do have an important role,so you might consider looking into that as well.Cheers

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