Monday, August 30, 2010

Medical Mondays: Bread and Butter


Hi everyone!
So today starts a marathon 6 weeks of studying for my board recertification.

Which means very little blogging (Boo Hoo!) and no writing (Double Boo Hoo!). So I'm going to be posting less often and I apologize ahead of time about not checking your blogs regularly. I'll miss it!

In honor of my studyfest, in which I will drink massive quantities of tea and bang my head against nearby walls, I thought it would be fitting to hit a very basic topic in medicine (what we docs call "Bread and Butter" topics): Strokes vs Heart Attacks.

This question is inspired by some emails from Anne (Piedmont Writer).

In concept, both heart attacks and strokes are about one single problem—not getting vital oxygen to the point where tissue dies.

In heart attacks (also called myocardial infarction), it's caused by a sudden blockage in one of the arteries that supplies blood to the heart muscle itself. There can be small and large heart attacks, depending on the size of the blockage, which artery it hits, and how long the blockage lasts.

Symptoms include (but can vary widely): crushing chest pain, chest pressure, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, left arm and jaw pain. Fatal or dangerous arrhythmias can occur to make someone pass out.

In stroke (also called cerebrovascular accident, or CVA), two types can occur: hemorrhagic or ischemic. Hemorrhagic means a blood vessel bursts. As a result, some brain tissue can lose it's blood supply since it's spilling out, and the blood itself is irritating and can take up space. This can also be small, or large and devastating.

In ischemic strokes, the lack of oxygenation occurs from many causes: a blood vessel is occluded because either a clot flew up into one of the vessels of the brain from lower in the body (the neck vessels, for instance) or can happen spontaneously within the native vessels of the brain. Or, if there isn't enough blood to perfuse the brain (like in a very prolonged low blood pressure situation), or if there is a blood clot in the drainage vessels of the brain (venous thrombosis).

As for symptoms of stroke? There are a bunch. But in essence, they revolve around problems with the nervous system. So weakness, numbness, difficulty talking, thinking correctly, problems walking...these are the tip of the iceberg for stroke symptoms, and of course it depends on how big the stroke is and what part of the brain it hits.

So technical! Let's take a collective breath.

Wiggle your fingers and say "Ahhh!" Good.

Any chest pain? No? Excellent!

You're healthy! That'll be $500. Just kidding.

Now get back to work!

Please keep in mind this post is for writing purposes only and is not to be construed as medical advice! (See sidebar disclaimer)

If you've got a fictional medical question, let me know! Post below or email me at


All I ask in return is that you become a follower of my blog and post a link on your blog when I post. Easy peasy.

Also, don't forget to check out Mental Health Mondays at Laura's Blog!

42 comments:

B.E. Sanderson said...

Good luck studying for your re-certification. I'm sure you'll do fine. =o)

After my father's heart problems, I knew all about the chest pain and arm pain, but I never knew a stomach ache could also be a symptom. Thanks, Lydia.

Alexandra Crocodile said...

Yes, good luck!
I love your medical Mondays, they're so educational!

Bathwater said...

This new dog of mine is going to give me a heart attack!

KarenG said...

Good luck with the studying, and I'll miss your posts. Medical Mondays are always interesting, but this one scared me just a little.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good to know the difference!

Amie B said...

good luck studying for all your tests!

this was good information, too. don't they say to ask a stroke victim their name and address and have them touch their nose or something? if they can't do it, they're having a stroke? i dunno...maybe i'm making that up, but it seems i heard that once.

Kelly said...

Good luck studying, Lydia!!!
Thanks for the great medical info!

Piedmont Writer said...

All the best as you pass your recertification which I know you'll do handily.

Will miss you and your posts so hurry back.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Always great info! And good luck with your recertification. I know you'll do great :)

lbdiamond said...

Good luck with studying, Lydia!!!

BTW, if you start to get a headache from banging your head too much, I can lend you a helmet. ;)

Tess said...

My hubby just started studying for his board re certification as well. Good luck!

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the reminder on the differences. I think there is much confusion with the general public.

Good skill with your recert--that sounds like much work.

Faith said...

Geek, recertification! Good luck!!! Make sure you stock up on Tylenol for all those headaches from banging your head... haha.

Clara said...

Awesome as always Lidya! =D

Ill miss you!!!! =(

Sam Liu said...

Good look with your studying, we'll all be waiting for you when you return. I shall miss your marvellous medical Monday posts - I always learn so much! :D

Munk said...

Try your best to make the studying enjoyable.

Laura Eno said...

Good luck with your recert and don't bang your head too much!

Abby said...

Good luck on studying! Will miss your posts, but hope you pass!

I start school in exactly two weeks, and... not much blogging. I am sad.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good luck with your studying! I'm sure you'll be great! :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I'll miss you. Study hard. Do well. Hurry back :)

Crimey said...

Good luck for your re-certification. We're cheering for you. :)

patti said...

Were your ears burning yesterday? My doctor friend and I chatted about you! She may even check your website.

LOVED today's lesson.
You go certify up, girl.

Blessings,
Patti

Connie said...

Good luck with the re-cert. We'll miss you while you're studying but just think how charged up to be to start writing when you're done.

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for explaining.

I've heard if you have a stroke, how soon you seek medical attention makes a big difference on how well you recover.

Hope your studying is going well.

Krispy said...

Good luck with studying! You'll be sure to pass with flying colors. :) Will miss your posts while you're gone.

Holly Ruggiero, Southpaw said...

Good luck on the re-certification and surviving all the studying that goes with it.

Gail said...

Good luck with studying. I KNOW you'll do well on your exams. We'll all try to stay healthy while you're preoccupied:-)

Jai Joshi said...

I just love reading your blog so I'm sad you'll not be blogging as much! Make sure while you do all that studying that you get enough oxygen to your brain AND your heart! It helps with concentrating. Plus you won't have a heart attack or a stroke.

Jai

aspiring_x said...

i love medical mondays!
but sometimes i fear they are bad for my hypochondriasis!

Jonene Ficklin said...

Lydia, best of luck, but I know you'll do great! Thanks for doing your medical mondays, despite your schedule constraints. I look forward to them and I'll try to wait patiently for your other blogs.

Heather said...

I love the artwork, that's awesome! And so true. Butter=bad! Great stuff, as always, I'm bookmarking this page!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lydia..All the best for your board recertification.
After many heart problems in the family, I am quite familiar with most of the signs and symptoms of heart attacks.
Thankyou Dr Kang for the free consultation.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Best wishes on your exams! You'll be missed.

Karen Lange said...

Wish you all the best with your studies! Will miss seeing you around.

The Words Crafter said...

Good luck on the recert!!!

Vicki Rocho said...

Good luck with your study fest! Might I suggest using a pillow (or large stuffed chair) instead of the wall? Killing off the brain cells you're trying to infuse with knowledge seems a trifle counterproductive to me.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Good luck with the studying session.

We'll miss you, so hurry back :)

notesfromnadir said...

Have fun studying! :)

Always interesting to read more about medical terms as you explain them so well.

Thanks for reminding me to practice my yoga more frequently!

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Good luck with your studying! Yay, go easy on the butter.

Medeia Sharif said...

Good luck with your studies!

DL Hammons said...

Good luck with your re-certification (like your going to need it)! :)

Warren Baldwin said...

Thanks for this medical information. Good luck studying for re-cert. wb