Causes And Symptoms Of Heart Disease
( Originally Published 1921 )
THERE is no doubt that heart disease can be caused by nervous disorders, because the relation between the heart and the nerves is close. Many people are killed by heart failure caused. by deep emotion. Joy as well as sorrow can kill. I saw a sad example of this in a mother who had worried for weeks about her boy, who was fighting in France. After being in the thick of the fight, the boy returned home as an instructor in a Southern camp. The mother's joy when she met him and knew that he would not be exposed any more to danger was so extreme that she developed an attack of angina pectoris which almost proved fatal. I have never seen a stranger combination of intense bodily agony with high mental satisfaction. Deaths from sorrow and fright, of course, happen much more often. The human mind seems to be more susceptible to great sorrow than to great joy.
Altho these sudden heart troubles come from deep emotion, a continued nervous strain also causes real damage to the heart. This, however, takes place indirectly. First the chemical functions in the body are upset; then the nutrition of the heart suffers. Some believe that worry is a direct cause of high blood pressure, but it seems to be more probable that there is always an intermediate digestive and nutritional cause.
Besides occasioning real heart disease, nervousness may act as a profoundly disturbing factor in cases where the heart is perfectly healthy. Any nervous excitement may cause a temporary palpitation.
Many purely nervous diseases finally result in heart disease, if they are not cured. The most conspicuous is what is known as Graves' disease or exophthalmic goiter. This is a disease of the thyroid gland, which causes the heart to beat rapidly over a long period of time. Under the strain of this beating the heart often is seriously damaged. People that have this disease should have. their hearts carefully looked after.