Treatment Of Palpitation
( Originally Published 1921 )
When a person has an attack of palpitation, it is not possible by any known means to cause the heart immediately to become slow and regular. So the first thing is to make him as comfortable as possible, and reassure him in everyway. Such remedies as are at hand must be given in succession, until relief is obtained. The last remedy always produces the cure, but on another occasion, when it is used first, it will fail. This means that there is no specific remedy for palpitation that can be recommended for all instances.
People who are subject to palpitation have ordinarily tried many different forms of treatment, and know better than any one else what helps them. It may be that some simple procedure like standing up or turning on the side helps them; it may be a full dose of bicarbonate of soda, or aromatic spirits of ammonia, or the use of bromid. Sometimes a cup of hot water will bring up the gas which has caused the irritation and thus relieve the condition. The close relation between palpitation and the stomach in every instance makes attention to the stomach of importance. The greatest remedy of all is rest, and attacks are usually self limited. As the treatment is of doubtful value anyhow, it is wise not to do anything that can do harm or cause subsequent discomfort. It has been a frequent observation that people suffering from a simple attack of palpitation which would not have amounted to much if they had remained quiet and had exercised a little patience have gone through many hours of discomfort with all the after-affects because of too free use of stimulants and perhaps full doses of morphine.
It is important in the handling of people with palpitation to secure their confidence, remove their fear of pain and danger, and persuade them to abstain from harmful forms of treatment.
The time to treat palpitation is between the attacks. This can be successfully accomplished in most instances by one who will take the trouble to analyze the true cause of the condition. This is accomplished by the use of the electrocardiograph, particularly when a picture of the heart beat can be made during an attack. If the attack has been due to auricular flutter, a complete digitalization of the heart is necessary. If it has been due to an irregular ventricle, particular attention must be given to disturbance there. If it has been due to an attack of fibrillation, the condition merits the management that pertains to a serious condition of the heart. A simple paroxysmal tachycardia, the occasion for which is evident in some unusual nerve stimulation that is not apt to recur, does not merit any special treatment excepting that which would put the person in the best possible general health.