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View Full Version : Can a heart attack be treated at home?



Guardian
10-14-2010, 05:14 AM
Edit: Answered! Big thanks! I'm done working on this thesis so this thread can be closed.

A man has a heart attack (set in the 1920's) and his neighbor who used to be a doctor treats him with some unnamed chemicals, while chit-chatting about a theory, with great success in a "marvelously short while".

Yes, that is H.P. Lovecraft's Cool Air.

I am trying to determine whether the doctor's unlikely chemical mixture was more likely than I would think, or if his discussion with the patient about his mind-over-body theories was what really relieved the heart attack.

Is it likely that a doctor who no longer practices but keeps unnamed preservative chemicals at his home for his own use, would even have the right things? Would it be likely to help very much, if even mixed correctly? (Remember this is set in 1920's).

On the other hand, in this story the doctor's theory about mind being stronger than the body is true. He tells the patient during this time that the "will and consciousness are stronger than organic life itself." It is proven true because the doctor himself died 18 years ago, yet he lives even though his organs apparently no longer function. The scene vaguely describes the doctor making the medicine, while his words to the patient are expressed many times as having an extremely soothing effect, ect.

My thesis is that the doctor's theory works in this story, and that sheer force of will towers over all other physical intervention. So is this example with the patient worth mentioning, or is it too plausible that the chemicals did all the work, and I'd only be shooting myself in the foot?

Horseshoes
10-14-2010, 06:11 AM
Aspirin was around then, given for nearly everything, and is still given today in cases of MI and angina.

Angina was more likely mistaken for a heart attack (MI) back then and the pt could certainly have recovered from angina without significant intervention.

Lhun
10-14-2010, 12:33 PM
Regression to the mean is the bane of medical research. It's why complicated double blinded trials are necessary. I.e.: people can recover on their own from almost anything. Often, if people recover from something after being administered some unlikely seeming remedy, they would have recovered just as well without it.
So, anything is possible, the patient recovering from the heart attack with the help of those chemicals, the patient recovering on his own with the chemicals having no effect whatsoever, or even the patient recovering despite the chemicals being, but not harmful enough to kill him.

waylander
10-14-2010, 01:14 PM
If the doctor has glycerol trinitrate (nitroglycerin) around then treating the patient with that would certainly alleviate angina

Guardian
10-14-2010, 02:02 PM
Thank you for the quick replies. :)

Julie Worth
10-14-2010, 02:26 PM
My thesis is that the doctor's theory works in this story, and that sheer force of will towers over all other physical intervention. So is this example with the patient worth mentioning, or is it too plausible that the chemicals did all the work, and I'd only be shooting myself in the foot?

I don't know why it would, if you've established that the doctor is physically dead yet lives on. You could write this so modern doctors all believe that some unknown chemicals did the work, even while the readers think, they are so blind! Don't they see it was pure will? (Or a case of vampirism.)

shaldna
10-14-2010, 03:38 PM
Aspirin was around then, given for nearly everything, and is still given today in cases of MI and angina.

Angina was more likely mistaken for a heart attack (MI) back then and the pt could certainly have recovered from angina without significant intervention.


I think they still do advise asprin for people who think they are having a heart attack, something about it thinning the blood, although I could be wrong.

RJK
10-14-2010, 10:31 PM
It's true, if you are not already on a low-dose aspiring regimen, you should take an aspiring if you feel a heart attack coming on. Unless you have nitroglycerin tabs at home, that's about all you're going to be able to administer. Most of the medications you would receive in the ER weren't around that long ago.

Guardian
10-14-2010, 10:35 PM
I don't know why it would, if you've established that the doctor is physically dead yet lives on. You could write this so modern doctors all believe that some unknown chemicals did the work, even while the readers think, they are so blind! Don't they see it was pure will? (Or a case of vampirism.)

The catch was that my thesis is that his will is exclusively what kept him alive. In other words, the doctor did not need the cold air to keep himself from rotting, he only thought he did. (But that's hard to prove). The similarity I was trying to draw was that the narrator did not need the medicine, or it was a placebo, and the doctor's words to reassure him were all that he needed.

Anyhow, I've passed in that paper now... although realizing I might still be shooting myself in the foot with the example I was debating in this thread. It seems like the medicine really was plausible, but I'll go like others who make arguments and ignore facts that oppose my view. :P So I still pointed out that in the story, at least, words and emotions are given much more power than medicine is.

So, this thread can be deleted or closed now. Thanks again for the quick feedback!

whacko
10-14-2010, 10:54 PM
One of the reasons for advances in medicine is that some scientists investigated Old Wives' Tales. So Smallpox got wiped out because Edward Jenner, IIRC, noticed that milkmaids never got cowpox. Yes, it's a long story.

But somebody else, and I can't remember whom, noticed that gypsies had a way to treat heart attack victims. The gypsies, and this is all from memory so delightfully vague, gave them foxglove soup, or tea or something...

Nowadays, Digitalis is used to treat heart attack victims. Which is a plant extract of... some type of foxglove.

So no reason for the doctor not to have an unlikely chemical mixture of foxglove tea handy really.

RJK
10-15-2010, 07:30 PM
Jean Aul must have done a ton of research for her Clan of the Cave Bear and the sequels. Her character used many herbal remedies to cure illnesses and injuries. All of the remedies are either in use today, or are the origin of modern medicines.

But that's not what the OP is trying to show. In fiction, you just have to get the reader to believe the man can heal himself with the strength of his mind and spirit. It's a large part of everyone's getting well.