Friday, March 9, 2012

Overview of the Virtual Lab

This lab was a fun way to sum up all that I have done in the cardiovascular system! Throughout this lab there is a virtual patient and you are the doctor. You have to make them take tests such as using a stethoscope to listen to their heart beat and make predictions on the problem, take echocardiography images, and pedigree charts. Finally after this process is finished you have to come to a conclusion and try to determine what the heart condition may be. If you are right you win; if not you go on to another patient and try again. In my actual case I had a patient that had an irregular heart beat when I listened with the stethoscope. This patients heart you could hear two odd sounds. From this I determined he may have mod bradycardia and a mild mitral valve gegutation meaning blood was flowing back through the valves when it shouldn't be. He was complaining of dyspnea and fatigue when strenuous activity and from what I could tell he had a diastolic murmur meaning his second beat stretched out meaning blood was following back through the valve(s). Then I started on an echocardiograph test. From this the problem looks like the mitral valve is thickened and didn't seem to be moving properly. The valve leftlets moving poorly was leading to an obstruction between the left atrium and the left ventricle which was interfering with the blood flow. This condition is called Mitral Stenosis. My final test to the patient was using pedigree charts. This chart shows the patients family history and charts showing who in the family may contain this disease. These charts tell if a problem is recesive or not. Knowing that 2 of 6 children of 2 perfectly healthy parents are born with serious genetic diseases we determined  from the patients charts that neither of his parents had this disease but a few of his cousins did. Iconcluded that the condition didnt seem hertiatory because he has relatives with the disease, but no parents or offspring with it. My final doctor's conclusion was that the patient was suffering from Mitral Stenosis with is a diastolic murmur. I let the patient know that it can be corrected with valve replacement surgery and it isn't fatal but symptoms will remain unless taken care of. I was correct with diagnosing my patient and so I won the game! Overall, this lab was a great way to wrap up the cardio system! And the game was actually very interesting, fun, and benifical to see how all the small parts of the cardio system work together.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Blood Pressure and Heart Rates

It's estimated that about 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, and most don't even know it. High blood pressure is also called hypertension. It's a condition where the heart is working extra hard to pump blood through narrowed or constricted arteries. If you have high blood pressure, and it is left unchecked, you could potentially suffer a stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and other serious problems.

Because of the commonality of this problem, we decided to save some money and time by using the at-home, quick-reading technology to check our blood pressure rather than going to a doctor to be tested. My group (Steven, Sierra, and I) used both an automatic wrist monitor and an arm pump monitor to check our blood pressure. We took readings on both of these monitors and put them into graphs to compare them. 

My group had 3 subjects (as shown on x-axis), we used both a wrist monitor (green) and an arm monitor (red), the darker of the colors represent the systolic pressures, the lighter of the colors represent the diastolic pressures, and the measurements of these pressures can be determined from the pressure chart (y-axis). Let's talk a bit more about what systolic and diastolic are. Systolic blood pressure is a measure of blood pressure while the heart is beating. Diastolic pressure is a measure of blood pressure while the heart is relaxed, between heartbeats. Systolic is clearly higher because the pressure rising while the heart is working hard and the diastolic is a lot lower because the heart isn't working so hard.This chart was a great visual aid to compare our data and analyze it. From this chart we can conclude we all have fairly similar and normal blood pressure.

Heart rate is the number of heartbeats per unit of time, typically expressed as beats per minute (bpm). Heart rate can vary as the body's need to absorb oxygen and excrete carbon dioxide changes, such as during exercise or sleep. The measurement of heart rate is used by medical professionals to assist in the diagnosis and tracking of medical conditions. It is also used by individuals, such as athletes, who are interested in monitoring their heart rate to gain maximum efficiency from their training.

While testing our heart rates the monitors also showed us our heart rates. It was interesting to record our heart rate on both monitors. This was our data:

This data was interesting to me because when reading about normal resting heart rates, an average heart rate should be about 60-90 bpm. My heart rate personally tends to be on the lower numbers of that average, but while testing my heart rate over the machines it was much higher. I read a little more into testing heart rates and sources said that during the process of testing the body often seems to get a bit nervous even when you feel relaxed. This is normal, but it often increases your bpm.

Overall, these charts were interesting to compare. We tried comparing data between male and female, wrist and arm, etc. Charts often help with data analysis which is exactly what these did! It was fun to mess around with this equipment and it helped me to understand blood pressure and heart rate measurements even that much more!!