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HEART DISEASES: DIAGNOSIS
 
Every practitioner, whatever his methods, is well aware that the general public attach the gravest importance to the words 'heart disease’. When fear can be so readily evoked, it is doubly necessary to eliminate all other possibilities before pronouncing such a diagnosis. Thoughtlessness cannot be tolerated, because a frightened patient can become an incurable case.

The heart is capable of producing a variety of abnormal sounds — dullness and 'murmurs' — to which some specialists ascribe tragic significance. Perhaps even more fear-inducing are electrical and electronic diagnostic devices — such as electro cardiographs (EKG) — because they appear to have greater-than-human perception, and their findings are there in tangible, black-and-white records. Sounds and traces are both subject to interpretation, and both are commonly misunderstood. It is quite possible for a diagnosis to be technically accurate, yet be a totally misleading guide to the physician and his patient. To make possible an effective plan of action, there must be a far broader grasp of the situation than the fragments yielded by diagnostic apparatus.

Some abnormalities of heart-sound or electrical trace can arise from simple, passing, nervous or nutritional distress — particularly after fevers which have been incorrectly treated. When the nervous strain or digestive weakness is restored to normal, or when the system regains its proper balances, a complete recovery from the 'heart disease' occurs spontaneously. This is not to say that all such misled opinions can be harmlessly shrugged off: the implications of 'heart trouble' are so intense that some people may suffer lasting hurt as a result of a specialist's solemn shake of the head. What should be no more than an interesting and temporary deviation may become a serious and lasting disorder if accorded the consultant's formal recognition.

Even the patient who later learns such a truth may find it difficult or impossible to rid his mind of the original prognosis—whether this was explicit or implied. Whenever he runs into a difficult or uncomfortable phase, he will recall the unhappy event and on cue his heart will immediately start acting up.

*17\253\8*

Cardio & Blood




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