Tag Archives: health and education

Heart Lesson – Torsades de Pointes

heart waves arrythmia
heart waves arrythmia

A healthy heart as we know is a pump that delivers oxygenated and deoxygenated blood for our bodies to survive. It can contract up to 2.5 billion times during a person’s average life. We recognize the heart as one of the most major organs since without it, there’s no life. Unfortunately, one can be born or acquire ailments that affect our heart, such as ‘Torsades de Pointes‘.

 Torsades de pointes refers to a dangerous arrhythmia of the heart, if not diagnosed or treated correctly and still somewhat, difficult to identify. Studies have revealed common characteristics of this condition for improved care and treatment depending on which variation exists. These variations refer to congenital or acquired torsades. Inherited Torsades is due to an inability for ‘ion channels‘ to correctly carry the electrical action/impulse of the heart and acquired version refers to drugs triggering Torsades due to ‘blocking‘ these ion currents. Ion channels describes the flow and rate of electrolytes, sodium and potassium in the heart.

Torsades in action has the heart in a state of ‘polymorphic ventricular tachycardia’. This refers to the heart rate increasing to 150 beats per minute (bpm) and up to 250 bpm. A normal heart rate is anywhere from 60 to 100 bpm. Athletes can have lower heart rates than 60 bmp. This abnormal heart rate will ‘spontaneously‘ return to a normal beat but can recur and/or progress into ‘ventricular fibrillation ‘(VF) symptoms which can lead to death, if it persists. It is this ‘return to normal‘ action that has made identifying Torsades difficult.

LQTS heart beat wave patterns
LQTS heart beat wave patterns

Research and studies have shown that people with Torsades have their beginnings with ‘fainting‘ due to a drop in blood pressure causing dizziness . Use of an electrocardiogram (ECG) have revealed a ‘long QT interval’ and another term, ‘Long QT Syndrome‘ (LQTS). A recording of the heart rate may not reveal Torsades in action but definitely that ‘long QT’ or ‘short variant‘ characteristics of Torsades, help provide clues for physicians and health care professionals.

An ECG showing Torsades in action displays an illusion of a swirled rotation (like a ballet dancers’ pirhouette hence it’s name) on it’s electrical axis, a long and short RR – interval precedes the arrhythmia and follows a premature ventricular contraction (R-on-T PVC). Other symptoms reported are palpitations, rapid pulse, nausea, cold sweats, lightheadedness (short episode) and outright fainting.

Torsades is usually found in people that are malnourished, chronic alcoholics, or with hypokalemia (abnormally low pottasium), diarrhea, and/or hypomagnesemia (abnormally low magnesium), heart failure, left ventricular hypertrophy (enlarged left ventricle), bradycardia (slow heart rate), hypothermia and subarachnoid hemorrhage. It is these symptoms and existing disorders that are critical for a physician or health care team to be aware and identify quickly especially with medications, known to trigger Torsades.

Torsades can be found in many age groups. When identified in children, it is usually congenital and may accompany disorders such as Jervell and Lange-Nielsen syndrome, Romano-Ward syndrome and triggered by effects of stress, fear or physical exertion (usually prohibited from competitive sports), whearas in adult years, it is considered acquired. Electrolyte disorders are usually the cause of acquired Torsades and treatable with correcting the imbalance and/or removal of triggering medications.

Treatment for Torsades is available and it’s known there are six different variants of Torsades. Effective treatment will depend on identifying the specific ‘genotype‘ which identifies whether it’s  sodium or potassium channels that are affected.  A family physician may refer their client to a cardiologist, electrophysiologist, or geneticist. Again, failure to identify Torsades has been due to it’s ‘return to normal’ activities and complications of persistent ‘ventricular fibrillations‘ that arise.

 The existence of Torsades has been known and further studies at the molecular and cellular levels have provided leaps forward in better care and treatment. The ‘prevalence‘ of Torsades in the general population is an unknown. Could this be a cause of death for the homeless, mentally or medically challenged people, that have occurred when getting tasered by police?

Action of Learning

Extra Reading

 Drugs with Risk of Torsades de Pointes

 My Majors

 Living with Heart Rhythms

 I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments and share your thoughts. Send me a email if you have a request on a topic of interest or to say hello.

 Article(C)2012, all rights reserved. Ginsense creates and posts articles online about business development, micro business, health, science, technology and society.

 

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Cat Litter and Toxoplasmosis at Home

blackKittyBA cat can be quite a lovely creature with their lithe grace, silky fur, purrs and playful antics. They even have us trained to provide a litter box for them so they can tend to ‘bathroom’ needs. Unfortunately, they can also be a source of a disease known as taxoplasma infection aka taxoplasmosis. Now, what does a cat have to do with infections?

Infections arise from contact with a germ and they can thrive in various environments, wet, cold, hot, dry. As long as they have their needs met, such as, food, water and shelter they will thrive and our own bodies provide a perfect environment. It seems our own bodies can betray us, don’t it? But we are own keeper, responsible for our own bodies.

Toxoplasmosis begins with the germ, ‘Toxoplasma gondii‘, a sporozoan parasite, and is borne out of infected meats such as mutton, venison, pork, goat meat but also when in contact with cat feces. Careful handling and cleaning a cat’s litter box is important since we are not always aware if the cat is infected. A cat becomes a carrier if it eats an infected mouse or rat. Studies have found infected rodents are not afraid of cats and will seek them out by scent. This is due to how it changes the behaviors of cells in the brain, ‘dendritic cells‘ secrete ‘GABA’ergic secretions which inhibits fear and anxiety.

The types of infection depends on how it was acquired. Infants born with toxoplasmosis are considered as having the ‘congenital‘ form which affects the central nervous system and may cause blindness, brain defects, or death. The ‘acquired‘ form falls into two categories, ‘lymphadenopathic‘ which resembles mononucleosis and the second version, ‘disseminated‘, which causes lesions to appear on the lungs, liver, heart, muscle, skin, brain and meninges.

Research studies of changes in a ‘host‘ have found, that people with various psychiatric disorders, are found to be infected with toxoplasmosis. There is evidence infection may be found in people who are extroverted or exhibit risk taking and aggressive behaviors. Analysis of records suggest that up to 30% -50% of the global population may be infected, with 60M infected in the US (CDC). Humans have lived with this parasite for a long time.

Initial infection may cause ‘flu‘ like symptoms and then disappear into a ‘dormant’ phase and depends upon the strength of one’s immune system. It can be fatal for those with weaker immune systems (HIV/AIDS) or the unborn fetus. Inflammation of the choriod and retina aka ‘chorioretinitis‘ eventually occurs in the congenital or chronic form with symptoms of pain, light sensitivity, blurred vision, black spots.

Diagnosis of toxoplasmosis is difficult and expensive. Bloodwork is drawn and stored for comparison purposes. Biopsy’s of cysts, and swollen lymphs may provide visual changes. Therapy is effective with a combination of Pyrimethamine (Daraprim), and sulfadiazine or triple sulfonamides for a total of thirty days and reserved for those with weak immune systems. Newer drugs are proving effective and may also, be additionally used. Inflammation of the eyes may be treated with corticosteroid, anti-parisitic or antibiotic drugs, dark glasses, and may include laser surgery to remove lesions.

Prevention of this disease, is done with emphasis on avoiding eating raw meat, that may contain ‘cysts’ and avoiding contact with cat feces. Best practices when handling raw meat, do not cross handle knives and other utensils in the kitchen, with other foods or liquids. Use disposable gloves, face mask and disinfectant, when cleaning the cat’s litter box. Make sure to wash the area where the litter box is placed too.

I hope you found this article informative. Please feel free to leave your comments, share your thoughts or ask a question about a topic that interests you. It’s FREE to subscribe by Email or my RSS Feed.

Article(C)2012, An Informal Cornr, all rights reserved. Ginsense creates and posts articles online about business development, second income idea’s, health, science, technology and society.

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