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Lotensin (Benazepril)

Let’s settle one issue right from the start: heart disease is wrongly named. Heart disease is really arterial or circulatory disease, but the term ‘heart’ is so widely used and understood that even the medical profession continue to use it. Whatever the term used, the disease covers a wide spectrum of complaints, including:
angina (chest pain on exertion or stressful experience)
intermittent claudication (pains or cramps in the leg on walking or hurrying)
dizziness, throbbing or tightness in the head
confusion, difficulty in concentrating
increasing breathlessness on exertion
increasing coldness, weakness or heaviness of the extremities
general feelings of tension, throbbing or fullness when under pressure
ringing in the ears (tinnitus), problems with vision or hearing
swelling of the ankles, unrelated to injury or other causes
high blood pressure (this last is usually diagnosed by a doctor as a result of symptoms such as those described above)
These symptoms are very varied, but it is hardly surprising that the signs of arterial disease are numerous and indefinite when it is considered that the human body contains no less than 30,000 miles of arteries – some estimates put it even higher. These traverse every square inch of the body, and comprise the network through which vital blood circulates to the tissues. Thus, there is a wide variety of sites which can be affected and in different ways, depending on individual lifestyles and hereditary factors.
It is no statistical secret, however, that in contemporary times the heart (through disease of its coronary artery system) is most frequently affected, as is revealed by the high incidence of heart attacks in our society. In 1991 in Britain, they accounted for a quarter of all deaths; the figure in America corresponds. Coming a close second to heart incidents are those which relate to the head (of which strokes are the most serious) and the legs (intermittent claudication), causing circulatory difficulties which are so severe in some cases that amputation has to be considered. Computing these into the mortality rates reveals that by far the largest number of deaths in the western world are due to arterial causes.
Arterial diseases are progressive and serious, because they adversely affect the conveyance of vital supplies of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues. They also prejudice the removal of waste products which can poison the tissues if they build up sufficiently. Since all body organs and their functions depend on blood circulation for their successful operation, it can be seen just how widespread the effects of arterial disease can be. Yet their effects are largely silent until arteries become 90 per cent blocked, which is why some 25 per cent of first heart attacks occur without warning. Somehow enough blood manages to squeeze through until then to keep us relatively free of symptoms. Whether this is a good thing or a bad is questionable. The body’s main aim seems to be to keep the show on the road for as long as possible. But when it finally does give in the symptoms are usually serious, as statistics once more confirm.
Strokes, too, can occur without warning. In one second they can change the life of a seemingly healthy individual into that of a frightened invalid, in some cases even ending it. There seems to be no rhyme or reason, let alone justice, in such sudden transformations. But in fact there will have been plenty of minor warnings, even major ones, were we to be wise to the symptoms and to keep a closer watching brief on the body that is in our care. Many a man has complained of pains in his left arm radiating into the neck before he drops with a heart attack, and this is a classic sign that a heart checkup is needed. Many a person has attributed worsening pains in the legs and feet to an old back injury, or the weather, when in fact they may be the signs of increasingly blocked leg arteries.
Since such conditions are likely to affect the health of one in three of us severely, and all of us to a certain extent (because good health depends on good blood circulation), it is as well to consider:
a) what preventive measures can be taken to avoid serious arterial disease and,
b) what treatment options are available should an emergency arise.
Imagine the scenario of a wife who has heard that her husband has had a heart attack at work and is now in intensive care and is being advised that he needs a coronary bypass operation. Does she have any choice but to agree? Can she even choose who does this major surgery? Or decide which hospital? And all the while her husband, with whom she is used to consulting, lies helpless requiring her to make decisions at the worst possible time – in an emergency. No wonder such decisions are often left to the experts: it is too late to examine what alternatives there may have been or what precautions may have been taken to avoid such a scenario.

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