In this article described the blood and circulatory disorders. Varicose veins occasionally lead to a serious condition known as phlebitis, an inflammation of a vein usually in the leg. Phlebitis may also occur as an aftereffect of surgery. It is potentially quite dangerous because it is associated with the formation of a thrombus, or clot, in the vein. If the clot becomes detached from the wall of the vein, it is then called an embolus, and it may make its way through the circulatory system and become lodged in the pulmonary arteries, thus shutting off blood flow to a part of the lungs.
Phlebitis sometimes occurs during postoperative bed rest, childbirth, or on other occasions of inactivity. Though often dark in appearance, the condition was once known as “milk leg” because of the occasional whiteness of the affected leg.
What is a Stroke?
Apoplexy, stroke, and cerebrovascular accident are all terms used to describe sudden mishaps that affect the supply of blood to the brain. The damage occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into brain tissue, or when an artery leading to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, an air bubble, or some other abnormal particle.
Deprived of oxygen, the affected brain cells either stop functioning temporarily or, if the oxygen cutoff is prolonged, actually die. As a result, the function of parts of the body controlled by those particular brain cells is impaired.
Strokes vary widely in severity, depending on how long oxygen is cut off and on what part of the brain is damaged. A brief episode of reduced blood flow, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), is marked by such symptoms as slurred speech, weakness in hand or foot, blurred or double vision, all of which disappear within a few hours. Somewhat more serious is a “small stroke,” which produces a sudden, sharp headache, blackout, and some permanent, but often barely detectable, dysfunction.
More severe strokes sometimes result in a marked loss of memory or alertness, persistent unsteadiness on the feet, disturbing changes in emotional behavior, and paralysis on one or both sides of the body, depending on which part of the brain is affected. If a stroke damages the brain center that governs the respiratory system, death is quite likely. In the United States, strokes are the third most common cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.
Who is Most Likely to Suffer a Stroke?
High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer,” because it rarely gives its victims any warning of the damage it’s inflicting on the blood vessels. That damage can ultimately prove fatal. Indeed, 80 percent of the people who suffer strokes have a history of high blood pressure.
But victims of hypertension are not the only ones vulnerable to stroke. Overweight people, those with a genetic predisposition to hardening of the arteries, and certain victims of diabetes are also considered to be stroke candidates. Among men who are heavy smokers, nearly three times as many strokes occur as among nonsmokers. Birth-control pills seem to increase the risk of stroke, especially in women who experience migraine headaches when taking the pills.
Anyone who has undergone one or more transient stroke like episodes is a high risk; four out of five people in this group will probably have a full-fledged stroke within five years unless preventive measures are taken.
In some instances, medications designed to relax smooth muscles or reduce the likelihood of blood clots may be prescribed as part of a prevention plan. Also helpful are measures to control high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. And since stress has sometimes been linked to stroke, it is a good idea to learn how to deal with emotional pressures.
Can Stroke Victims Ever be Normal Again?
The popular actress Patricia Neal and the famous scientist Louis Pasteur have something in common. Both suffered massive strokes, both made heroic efforts to overcome the severe physical disabilities that resulted, and both eventually returned to phenomenally productive careers. Pasteur did remain partially paralyzed, but Neal achieved something approaching full recovery.
Years ago, little was done for people who suffered a stroke. Nowadays, rehabilitation efforts begin early, sometimes on the very day a stroke happens. As a result, approximately 30 percent of stroke victims recover fully. Another 15 percent of them remain entirely incapacitated, while 55 percent have some lasting handicaps, although many of these people can still lead satisfying lives. Specialists who work with stroke victims say that the outcome depends not only on the extent of the original damage and on the skill of rehabilitation experts, but also on the victim’s own determination to get better.
What is Gangrene?
Gangrene is not the name of a disease; it is a term that means “dead flesh.” Its extremely unpleasant nature is suggested by its derivation: the word is related to a Greek word that means “gnaw.”
In gangrene, a section of body tissue dies and decays as the result of an infection or diminished blood supply. Severe frostbite, which can destroy the circulatory network in the hands or feet, is one of the prime causes of gangrene. Arteriosclerosis, severe burns, uncontrolled diabetes, persistent infection, a crushing injury, or an embolism can also lead to it. Unfortunately, amputation is sometimes necessary to prevent the spread of gangrene.
What is the Kissing Disease?
Infectious mononucleosis is persistent but seldom dangerous viral infection common among young people aged 15 to 25. Folklore has it that the virus is transmitted by kissing, a notion that could have some truth in it, since the virus can be found in saliva. In any case, mononucleosis is often called the kissing disease.
Its earliest symptoms are frequently mistaken for flu – fever, headache, sore throat, and general exhaustion. Within a day or two, the lymph nodes in the neck and sometimes in the armpits and groin may swell as the disease progresses. The spleen and the lover may also become enlarged, and a skin rash may develop.
A blood test usually shows a marked rise in the number of unusual white blood cells and other abnormalities. Since it is of viral origin, “mono” does not respond to antibiotics. The patient recovers spontaneously in 3 to 12 weeks, though unusually fatigue sometimes persists for as long as a year.