I wasn’t even thinking of posting today, but sometimes plans change. It seems I have some free time on my hands due to a simple kitchen mishap with my favorite chefs knife. While cutting up some potatoes for a bit of delicious oven baked home fries I slipped and sliced a little into my thumb.
No big deal, a small cut. Unfortunately I take rat poison as prescribed by my doctor. Rat poison you think? How preposterous? Not so fast my medically disinclined friends. I like several million others who deal with hearts that just can’t get their rhythm right are prescribed warfarin sodium, the generic name of Coumadine. It’s the same ingredient used in many rat poisons that work on the premise that if you get a rat to eat enough his blood will get so thin it will bleed to death. Now you can feel bad for that particular rat, but there are few enemies of humans that have killed as many as rats have.
So how did rat poison become an important weapon for modern cardiologists? I really don’t know, but I bet it went something like this. Once medicine advanced to the point where it could keep more patients alive after heart attacks and heart surgeries this new clotting problem developed. Many of these patients, because of muscle that has died in their heart or from the scars in their heart after surgery, developed arrhythmias. Most of which were rhythms that went to fast. When your heart beats too fast it doesn’t perfuse the blood out of the heart like it should, leaving it to pool in the chambers, usually the atriums. Which, I think, is a fancy way of saying when your heart beats too fast there isn’t enough power in the rapid heart constrictions there to move all the blood out of the body and through the body the way it normally does.
And when blood isn’t flowing it is congealing and that’s one of the way blood clots form. Blood clots can peel off where they form and move around in the body until they get to a vessel they can’t fit through. If the blood vessel they get stuck in is a vessel that feeds the heart or brain and it makes it so blood can’t flow through that vessel to provide oxygen to the cells on the other side, those cells start to die. That, right there, is the anatomy of a heart attack or stroke. Either one can be mild, but they also can be debilitating, and in some cases deady.
So just as in my life when I work to fix a problem, there is a large probability that I will create a new larger problem that I had never thought about. So when heart surgery started saving people and doctors and emergency responders started saving heart attack victims they must have been surprised and totally bummed out when those patients they worked so hard to save started dying from blood clots.
At some point I am going to look up and tell you the real story about how doctors started prescribing rat poison to heart patients to keep them from clotting and developing new and maybe even worse afflictions, but until them I am going to go with this story that I am making up. To repeat, this part of my post is fake, made up, not true. Do not try to enthrall friends by sharing this story as fact unless they just were doing bong hits of Sinsemilla.
In the early 1930′s in Mew York there was an owner of a huge pest control company. The company was a nationwide company. It traded on the New York Stock exchange. The owner, George, was a hard-working man with a quick brain and an inquisitive mind. George was a driven man and worked sixty plus hours a week. He not only had a company listed on the stock exchange, he also owned lots of stock in a variety of companies.
At some point in the mid thirties George developed hypertension. His doctor said his blood pressure was going up quicker than his stock portfolio and told George to ease off the throttle, find a way to relax, and above all stop smoking. George, being the good American he was, did none of those things and kept going.
It wasn’t long before It happened. George had a heart attack. He was fortunate to be near a hospital when it happened and the doctors quickly and efficiently fixed him up and sent him on his way in no time after another stern speech about making good life choices. George, who did get scared by his heart attack, did pay attention to taking better care of himself. He stopped smoking, watched what he was eating, and tried to exercise regularly.
George was okay for a bit, but within a year he was back to his old ways, not able to resist the attraction of his old ways. Soon he had another heart attack and this time his heart attack affected beyond the initial attack. He was constantly short of breath, he couldn’t exert himself at all, and he ran out of strength before the day was half through. This time he wasn’t just scared, he wanted to know what was going on.. George started asking his doctor questions. What was happening, why was it happening again, and how worried should he be.
One doctor patiently sat him down and slowly explained how the heart works. he diagramed out how the blood flows through the heart, how blockages happen, and explained that George’s heart had lost some of its muscle and how that increased George’s chances of having more attacks because of the blood pooling in his chambers when his heart beat to fast from the dead muscle, and how this pooling blood coagulated creating a ticking time bomb for his next heart attack.
George went home that night and thought about all the information that he had seen that day and about the other material he’d been studying at the library. His internet connection was going to be down for many decades so he broke out the books he borrowed and a pencil and pad of paper. He studied the heart’s anatomy, it’s pumping and plumbing, and its electrical system. He was encouraged that the doctors had helped him survive two heart attacks and he was discouraged that the more heart muscle he lost the more likely he was to have another heart attack or stroke,