11 February 2011

Wellness: Stroke, Heart Attack, Trauma/Injury

Last week my father sent me an email about how if you buy this one over-the-counter drug, then you are safe if you are in an accident or if you have a heart attack. Have you seen it? It basically is a promotion for why you should give this one pharmaceutical company money. But, I thought that the basic premise was interesting and wanted to share it with the world--literally, I am now telling everyone in order to help save their lives & the ones they love (already getting a head start as a nurse!).

Here's the corrections to the email and the scientific reasons behind reducing your chance of death in trauma situations and in the event of a heart stroke for you or a loved one.

1. The email reads something of the sort:
You are experiencing a heart attack and a stroke.
Buy this OTC drug and keep it with you wherever you go
so that you can take this medicine during these events
& you can save your life.

What you really need to know is that you do not need any fancy drug, you just need good old fashioned aspirin. I'm sure many of you have heard of this before, but it's true. For adults, take the adult strength. Why? Aspirin is an anticoagulant. A stroke is essentially a blood clot in your brain; the final step of a heart attack is a blood clot in your body. So, if you are experiencing the symptoms of either a stroke or a heart attack, take the recommended dosage of aspirin and then call 9-1-1.

The anticoagulant will help to reduce a blood clot by, through a series of events, not activating platelets. By not activating platelets, a clot is not able to form because platelets are a necessary component of clot formation. I can go in to the reasons why, but this is essentially what happens: when platelets are activated, they travel through the blood, bind together at a point, build up, and clot. Aspirin inhibits this action, helping your blood travel through your arteries and your veins (instead of being inhibited and blood flow being reduced due to a clot). What happens when your blood can't pump through out your body? Well, for lack of being too grim, I'm going to assume that that is common knowledge.

2. The email continues:
If you experience a heart attack, stroke,
or trauma/accident, take this OTC drug
and do NOT lay down.

Since I am not a professional, I can not attest whether it is fact of fiction if someone should or should not take this medicine, aspirin, or any anticoagulant in the event of a trauma/accident-but I can certainly find out really quickly from all of the medical professionals that I am surrounded by if I really wanted to. However, I can explain why someone should NOT lay/sit down. When you lay down, your blood is "pulling" in your veins. This is what occurs when you are staying still for long periods of time, such as during a long plane ride and during bedrest. If you are experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or in a trauma/accident, this "pulling," termed "stasis," increases your chance of blood clotting because, essentially, what causes clots are being "pulled" to a local point.

Lastly, FYI on the symptoms of stroke & heart attack.

So, even though I am in no way of a medical professional (not yet, at least!), I thought this was valuable information to pass on. I read the email last week, and it was validated in my classes this week by someone who is actually a medical doctor. I also have a list of references (because as a student, I am not allowed to plagiarize). But, since I am not going to share my professor's name in the Internet, I can direct you towards some Internet material.

My pathophysiology professor during class and through a recorded lecture.
Pollak, A. N. (2011). Pharmacology. Critical Care Transport (pp. 186-233). Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.
Porth, C. (2007). Essentials of pathophysiology: concepts of altered health states (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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