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Why you must get pain OFF YOUR CHEST.

MOST people assume that chest pains mean heart trouble.

Maybe that's because heart attacks and angina get so much publicity.

We are constantly warned that overeating, smoking and not taking enough exercise will lead to heart problems.

Yet other organs in the chest, which need just as much attention, are largely ignored... until they start to play up.

Lately, I've seen two people with acute pain in the chest who thought they were having a heart attack...

But in both cases, the pain was due to lung disease.

The first patient, a woman in her 20s, was suffering from bouts of hot and cold sweats and shivering fits. She thought it was flu.

She went to work as usual, but suddenly developed a sharp pain in the chest that was much worse if she tried to breathe deeply.

It was so severe that her colleagues took her to the local casualty department.

She was convinced she was having a heart attack because the pain was so disabling, but the truth was much less terrifying.

She had a condition called pleurodynia, an inflammation of the surface covering the lungs, the pleurae.

The doctors could hear the rasp of the pleurae rubbing against the inside of the chest wall - and that was causing the pain.

Painkillers, reassurance and rest for a week or so returned her to normal with no harmful after effects.

Pleurodynia is caused by the Coxsackie virus, named after the American village in which it was first discovered.

This illness is sometimes called Bornholm disease.

It hits whole communities, just like a flu outbreak, then disappears.

My second patient was not so fortunate. An ex-miner in his 50s, he slipped on the street. He landed on his side, bruising his ribs.

He picked himself up without any trouble, but about 10 minutes later, he found he couldn't breathe deeply, and was in agonising pain.

Luckily his friends were sensible enough to take him straight to casualty.

The doctors discovered he had broken two ribs, and the jagged end of one had punctured his lung.

This meant that with every breath he took, air was getting into the space around the lung, but not being breathed out again.

He was effectively blowing up the space between lungs and ribs like a balloon. This is called a "tension pneumothorax".

It has to be relieved urgently by putting a drain through the ribs into the space, to equalise the pressure with air.

Later, the torn area of lung can be sealed off by the surgeon. But while they were treating the punctured lung, doctors fortunately discovered the patient had emphysema.

That's a condition in which the lung surface can be peppered with large blister-like air sacs.

The broken rib had punctured one of these air sacs.

The fact that he had been a miner contributed to his condition. Many years of exposure to the dusts at work, combined with his smoking habit, were obviously the cause of his lung problem.

He has made the effort to stop smoking. And now he is starting long-term treatment for his emphysema.

On another occasion, I was able to discover the cause of another patient's chest pain by just looking at her skin.

This woman had suffered from a stabbing pains all afternoon.

It spread from her back around the left side of her chest, below the breast.

Just like the other sufferers, she was naturally worried about a heart attack.

I couldn't find anything wrong with her heart, and the pattern of the pain was peculiar.

It was very well defined in a band about two inches wide from back to front, and didn't cross at all to the right side.

The clue to the cause was a tiny patch of blisters about half way round her side, smack in the middle of the band.

She was developing shingles, an infection with the chickenpox virus that spreads along a nerve from the spinal cord into the skin.

She was given Zovirax tablets, and by next morning she was fine. Before Zovirax, she would have had weeks of pain.

Obviously, any sharp, shooting pains in the chest are cause for concern.

Chances are it may not be a heart attack, but this is no reason to suffer in silence.

See your doctor and put your mind at rest.

News: MANY people have to take warfarin daily to prevent blood clotting. If you're one, check with your doctor before taking herbal medicines. One woman who took the Chinese herb, Dong Quai, a type of angelica, became covered in bruises. The herb turned out to contain powerful anti-clotting agents, which, taken with warfarin, could have caused severe internal bleeding.

THE good news is that we now have drugs that kill virus infections - something we could only dream about just 10 years ago. The bad news is that the arguments over who we can afford to give them to have now started.

Interferon alpha is effective against the hepatitis B virus. And Relenza, the first drug that attacks the influenza virus, has been granted a British licence.

FUTURE vaccines may well be needle-free and painless. Researchers in American have developed a vaccine that is simply spread over the skin - and it worked as well as an injection. The only drawback is that the skin has to be hairy for the vaccine to pass through it, because the drug appears to enter the body alongside the hair roots.

WHAT are the bad effects of cannabis? I have to be able to tell my son, who thinks it's harmless. He says it relaxes him.

THERE are other ways to relax. Cannabis can make you anxious and forgetful. It slows reactions, so makes you a dangerous driver and workmate. It makes it less easy to concentrate, so can lower exam grades. Smoking it eventually damages the lungs. Are these enough bad effects?

MY face becomes itchy and shiny after washing. This has been happening for a while now. What can it be?

IT may be some ingredient in your soap. Try using simple aqueous cream on the face, and wash only with warm water for a few days. If it doesn't improve, see your doctor.

IS THERE any treatment for chronic bronchitis? I've been told I have it, at the age of 64.

NOTHING can reverse the lung damage. But you must avoid all cigarette smoke, your own and other people's.

MY brother had a complete loss of memory last week for several hours, which cleared up as fast as he lost it. He has a pain at the back of his head. Could this be a brain tumour? He is waiting for a scan.

IT IS more likely to have been a small stroke, due to a circulation problem, that resolved itself. Other possibilities include an epilepsy-like seizure or an acute anxiety state. A tumour is unlikely. Often no cause is ever found and it never happens again.

MY lower legs, from my ankles to my mid-calf turn, red in hot weather. Why is this?

IT IS just your circulation adjusting to the heat and perhaps some dehydration. Are you overweight, do you do enough exercise, and do you drink enough fluids?

FAB FITNESS FADS... BODY PUMP (Glut Raises) IF THERE is one area of the body that everyone would like to improve it's the bottom. Women are always going on that their bums are too big, and if you ask fitness instructors what exercises are requested most in their classes, it will be Glut Raises. These trim the gluteus maximus... that's your buttocks!

In our series of Body Pump exercises, the legs and bottom are specifically targeted and can improve enormously in a short space of time.

So this week we will look at this area and how to improve the glut muscle with the correct technique.

As with other lower body exercises, the Glut Raise should be done towards the end of your workout as your heart rate is coming down. Remember, though, that your body and muscles work better when the heart is beating at a higher rate - so don't let your pulse slow too much.

The best way to see a big difference in your leg and bottom shape is to run, as well as using Body Pump exercises. To prevent the boredom factor setting in, try sprint running - which is basically running for two minutes and then jogging for one minute.

These three minutes are seen as one set and you can do as many sets as you want and build up as you develop. For best results though, remember never to come to a complete rest.

Combining Glut Raises with sprint running or jogging will improve your bottom and give it great definition. Try including the Abductor Raises from last week and you will have slim, well-defined legs.

Tips for Glut Raises are keeping the back straight and your head looking to the floor. Remember to keep the tummy muscles tight throughout the whole exercise.

Try three sets of ten of the basic and advanced moves and also add some pulses (small movements while your leg is in the air). During the advanced exercise always keep the foot flexed (pushing the heel to the ceiling).

Common faults are arching the back, causing a curve in the spine which, in turn, puts pressure on the back. Be aware of this, especially if you have had a back injury.


Kneel down with your hands, elbows and knees on the floor, resting your weight on your elbows. Tighten your tummy muscles and try to keep them tight throughout the exercise.

Your back should be kept straight. Try not to curve the spine. Keep your head looking down.


Lift one leg up into the air and straighten it out behind you. Tighten the bottom and remember to concentrate on the muscles that you are working.

Your leg should be tight. Lift and lower the leg. Try a few sets of these before moving onto the next position.


Once you have mastered this basic move try the more advanced move.

While the leg is straight behind you, bend the leg at the knee and flex the foot. Push your heel up towards the ceiling and back down again, keeping the leg bent.

You should feel a strain in the bottom.


For maximum effect and a tight bottom try some pulses. With the leg in the upward position keep it as high as possible. Make tiny movements while the leg is still up high. You will feel a burning sensation in the glut area. For best results combine sets of this with the basic and advanced positions and build up from here.

FIT'S THE ANSWER THERE are plenty of quick-drying nail varnishes on the market, but they don't come much cheaper than this. The latest addition to the Collection 2000 range is a real bargain at just pounds 1.79. It comes in seven different shades, straight off the autumn runways... and you only need one coat!

Dream solution IT'S claimed that 80 per cent of people have difficulty nodding off thanks to their partner's snoring. Now snoring is legal grounds for divorce in the US, so it's time to do something about it before it's too late. Try GoodNight StopSnore, a natural mouthwash proven to reduce snoring in over three-quarters of cases. Just get your partner to gargle with it and enjoy a night of peaceful sleep - finally! Priced pounds 9.95 for an eight-week supply.

THERE are hundreds of different types of lipgloss out there, but for a tried and tested favourite check out the range from Mac. The "five sins of lip gloss" come in a choice of shades including desire, lust and deceit. They are an extension of the classic translucent gloss and cost pounds 8 each.

Get nuts for health WE all know fruit and veg are good for us, but don't forget nuts. People who eat nuts five times a week halve their risk of a heart attack and those who eat them just once a week lower the chance by a quarter, a survey has revealed. The monosaturated fats in nuts can also help cut cholesterol levels and chemical compounds in almonds have been linked to the prevention of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

THIS trendy bag has everything you need to keep you looking gorgeous. It is in the autumn range from Rimmel. Coffee-coloured lipstick, super lash mascara, iridescent eyeshadow and lasting finish nail varnish in a package that doubles up as an evening bag. Just pounds 8.99.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Smith, Tom
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 12, 1999
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