Thursday, November 27, 2003

Blair's heart trouble caused by Mitral valve prolapse?
One noticeable thing about the PM last week which didn't get much coverage was that he looked like an ill man. I've never seen anyone condemn terrorist attacks with grey lips before.

His recent heart palpitations were rapidly written off as a one-off incident, the personal price of liberating Iraq. That was contradicted by both the Queen and Bill Clinton. It may also be contradicted by last nights news.

Doctors who called on Tony Blair after he complained of stomach pains are returning to see him later on Thursday.
The medics were summoned to check on him just hours after the Queen's Speech was outlined on Wednesday.

Aides said Mr Blair was "perfectly fine" and was back at work chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

The BBC report goes on to ascribe Blair's previous heart trouble to:

...supra ventricular tachycardia - a condition which causes heartbeat irregularities and shortness of breath - and ordered the father-of-four to rest for a day.

He was kept in hospital for nearly five hours, was sedated for 20 minutes and treated with a procedure called cardio version, which uses a small electric shock to make the heartbeat return to normal.

Fine, except that SVP isn't actually a condition, but a set of symptoms according to this medical site, which lists the causes as follows:

Pain, fever, hemorrhage, shock, heart failure (sinus Tachycardia), emotional disturbances, caffeine, nicotine, digitalis, mitral valve prolapse

Caffiene fits in with the PM's jokey explanation of his previoius heart scare. It also fits in with mitral valve prolapse, apparently a more serious matter.

Mitral valve prolapse--MVP--is a well recognized, clinical entity with a reported prevalence of 4% to 18%. According to The Framingham Heart Study, 7.6% of women and 2.5% of men have MVP. Others report an incidence as high as 18% in women, and 12% in men. The wide range is due to gender, age, and ethnic background of the subjects, along with the use of different diagnostic criteria. How many people with symptomatic mistral valve prolapse syndrome is unknown.

Mitral valve prolapse is believed to be inherited, with a greater expression of the MVP gene in females. Although people with MVP come in all shapes and sizes, there are physical features commonly associated with MVP. These include: pectus excavatum depression of the breast bone, scoliosis curvature of the spine, abnormally straight thoracic spine straight back, arm span greater than height, unusual joint flexibility, and low body weight.

Mitral valve prolapse has been around for a long time. In fact, symptoms similar to MVP syndrome were traced to the sixteen hundreds. MVP has been known by a variety of names. These include: irritable heart, soldier's heart, the effort syndrome, Barlow's Syndrome and DaCosta's Syndrome. British solders during the mid eighteen hundreds noted symptoms of fatigue, palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain and were unable to perform demanding physical tasks. This was a major cause of medical disability. Similar findings were noted during the Civil War, World War I and World War II.

What links the PM's heart condition to MVP? This (my emphasis)

MVPers report other symptoms. Common ones include:
•chronically cold hands and feet
•gastrointestinal stomach disturbances
•problems with memory or a feeling of fogginess
•inability to concentrate
•mood swings
•problems sleeping
•numbness or tingling of the arms or legs
•arm, back, or shoulder discomfort
•difficulty swallowing
•lump in the throat

...which may explain last night's tummyache.

MVP also appears to be stress related.

In fact, there are some indications that certain congenital conditions may predispose some people to having panic attacks. For example, some people have a fairly common congenital heart condition called mitral valve prolapse. This is a congenital anomaly in a heart valve that causes a heart murmur and sometimes causes palpitations that can trigger panic attack.

And from the previous link:

Although the relationship is not clear, many MVPers suffer from anxiety or panic attacks. The symptoms described are more consistent with panic disorder, the anxiety disorder studied most often in MVP patients. People have recurrent, spontaneous anxiety attacks that consist of various combinations of symptoms similar to some MVPS symptoms. These symptoms include: fatigue, fainting, dizziness, chest pain, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath.

The degree and mechanism of association between MVPS and anxiety disorders remains unclear. While some believe the symptoms cause anxiety attacks, others believe extraneous factors trigger attacks. They may occur anywhere, at anytime, even in the middle of the night. Whenever anxiety attacks do occur, they are frightening

Well, after Istanbul the PM looked like a man hearing the soil falling on his coffin lid. I wonder what his emotional state he's in, and how it affects his decision making?

The good news is that, if true, it's not fatal. The bad news, if true, is that we have a PM liable to heart disorders and anxiety attacks when under stress. And this is a bit disturbing.

Fans had gathered outside the hospital, sending flowers, floral tributes and messages of goodwill to the star.

Doctors operated on the 53-year-old singer and bassist on Thursday after he collapsed at home.

He is understood to have started complaining of stomach pains on Thursday morning.