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Source: Papers On Health
Ordinarily we are not aware of the beating of the heart,
enormous as is the work it does; but in certain cases this beating
becomes distressingly violent, especially on lying down flat or in
ascending hills or stairs. The latter cases are the more serious, yet
both kinds we have found quite curable. In treatment, fomentation must
be avoided, and so must doses of the nerve-damaging drug, digitalis.
The best way is to cool the heart, and thus relieve its superabundant
action. But care must be taken that cold be not applied to a feeble
heart, but only where action is evidently superabundant. It is usually
easy to distinguish the two kinds of palpitation. The cooling can be
done by pressing towels wrung out of cold water all over the heart
region of the left side. Then rub the part so cooled with olive oil,
dry off, and let the patient rest. This may be done in the morning
before rising. In cases where the heart is feeble, the following
treatment should be carried out instead of the cold towels:--Begin at
bedtime with a cloth covered with creamy soap lather, and placed quite
warm all over the body of the patient. It should be fastened on with
the body of a dress, or thin vest, so that it may be kept close to the
skin during the night. In the morning the back should be gently washed
with hot vinegar, dried, and gently rubbed with warm olive oil. In
those cases where the palpitation is only part of a general
nervousness, which causes great distress and sleeplessness at night,
the back should be lathered all over with soap (see Lather and Soap)
at bedtime, and the cloth with lather left on all night. In the
morning, dry off, rub gently with hot vinegar, and then with hot olive
oil. If the palpitation resists this treatment, then cold towels should
be gently pressed to the spine, until the whole system is quieted.
The back should then be rubbed with warm olive oil. So far as this
restless action is concerned, this is all that is required for complete
cure. We are writing thus in view of cases declared hopeless, but the
patients are now in perfect health. We remember one at this moment in
which the heart's action was so bad that the head could not be raised
from the pillow, but the person was in a few weeks as well as any one
could wish to be.
No one who has not seen how readily the surplus vital action passes out
of the system when simple cold is rightly applied, can imagine how
easily such cases are cured. It seems to us absurd to speak of "heart
disease" in many of the cases in which people talk of it and set the
case down as hopeless. It is absurd, simply because it is not heart
disease, but only a little more action than is comfortable, and which
is reduced in a few minutes by a cold towel. No doubt care and
willingness to work a little are required, if one would relieve a
sufferer in such a case as this, but that care and energy are sure to
have the best of all rewards.
Palpitation often arises from indigestion, in which case see
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