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'Minor' heart attacks can create major problems or even death

'Minor' heart attacks can create major problems or even death
February 27, 2012
By Paul G. Donohue, M.D.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My husband, 46, died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. An autopsy showed that he died from what the doctor said was a minor heart attack. How does a minor heart attack kill? It was major for him and me. — C.C.
ANSWER: The pathologist who performed the autopsy must have found that only a small section of heart was involved, and only a small heart artery was obstructed. Minor heart attacks can lead to major complications, including death. They can generate abnormal heartbeats, so abnormal that the heart's pumping action stops.
You have my deepest sympathy.
The booklet on heart attacks explains why they happen and how they're prevented. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 102W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient's printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I want to get rid of a lot of expired medicines. I have heard that flushing them down the toilet or putting them in the garbage will make them end up in our drinking water. What is the proper solution? — M.S.
ANSWER: Different government agencies have different recommendations for medicine disposal. Congress is trying to resolve those differences.
First, check with your drugstore to see if it has a program to dispose of medicines; many do. Also check with your town, county or state to see if it has "take-back" programs. Many do.
If you can't find a facility that accepts old medicines, mix them with coffee grounds, sawdust, kitty litter or similar materials (making them less appealing for children or pets to eat), seal them in a plastic bag and put them in your trash.
A few drugs ought to be flushed down the toilet or the sink. These drugs are mostly powerful painkillers, like morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone and Demerol. They pose a danger to children, pets and even adults if accidentally ingested. This advice comes from the Food and Drug Administration. You can find the complete list at www.fda.gov.
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DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have an ingrown toenail that's giving me much grief. I'd like to take care of it myself. I'm out of work and have no insurance.
Will you give me some directions on what to do? — H.A.
ANSWER: You can try to handle it on your own, but be careful. Don't traumatize the toe or skin.
Soak your foot in warm, soapy water for 10 minutes. To free the nail from the corner of the skin in which it is imbedded, try to work a small ball of cotton between the nail and the skin. Dental floss hooked under the corner of the skin helps you accomplish this.
From this day onward, cut your toenails on a horizontal plane. Don't round off the edges. That's an invitation to an ingrown toenail.
If all of this is a bit overwhelming, let a podiatrist free the nail for you. Make some arrangements for a later payment.
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Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
(c) 2012 North America Synd., Inc. All Rights Reserved
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