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A Question About Heart Attacks
Old 06-13-2009, 08:26 AM   #1
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A Question About Heart Attacks

Prompted by Windsurf's story about his heart attack, here's a question that has been simmering in my subconscious for a long time:

If a fuse blows in my house, and I replace it without correcting the problem that caused the fuse to blow, it will just blow again.

If my car stops because it ran out of gas, I can't just start it again, I have to put gas in it, then it will start.

So why is it that when the heart stops (or fibrillates), and we shock it, it starts again, even though we've done nothing to correct whatever it was that made it stop (or fibrillate)?

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Old 06-13-2009, 08:56 AM   #2
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More like a computer needing to be reset. If it hangs (stops or fibrillates) it is useless, but when you reboot it (shock it - cardioversion) it seems to work fine. And yes it is wise to find out why it hung up (bad motherboard, surge, etc. or coronary disease v. malfunctioning conduction system needing a pacemaker, etc.) so it doesn't happen again.

The big difference is that the computer can sit forever before you reboot it. With your heart, if it isn't beating it isn't supplying blood to itself and the tissue dies (infarction) in a few minutes, hence the importance of early CPR. You can't shock dead heart muscle back to life.

Don't mean to be oversimplifying, but it's a good question and not too bad an analogy.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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