It is well to remember that the dietetic treatment of heart troubles includes prevention as well as alleviation; the treatment of functional disorders as well as those attended by actual disease of the organ. In many of the functional disorders, the consideration of the diet, and the treatment directed to the digestion, are all that is needed for the relief of the symptoms; whilst, when the heart is actually diseased, the back-pressure congestion in the stomach, liver, and digestive organs generally, constantly makes digestive disturbance the first symptom for which the patient comes to seek relief.
Functional disorders present such symptoms as pain, cardiac distress and pseudo-angina, rapidity, palpitation and irregular or intermittent action of the heart.
We will consider the treatment of such functional disorders under the following headings: -
1. Functional troubles due to dyspepsia and hepatic engorgement.
2. Functional troubles due to errors in diet or abuse of food, drink or drugs.
3. Functional troubles due to nervous disorders - functional or organic.
4. Functional disorders due to anaemia and debility.
5. Functional troubles due to febrile conditions and toxaemia.
N.B. - It will be noticed in the above list how frequently the trouble is due to something that the patient is doing wrong. One cannot too strongly insist on the necessity for inquiring carefully into the life and doings of such patients. Otherwise the dyspepsia, or the heart trouble alike, will be treated unsuccessfully, the actual cause not having been discovered and removed.
It is well to recognize the fact that more patients come complaining of heart trouble when the digestion is at fault than do those whose hearts are actually diseased. The dietetic treatment of dyspepsia will be considered under its proper head (to which the reader is referred); but it is necessary here to draw attention to the frequency of the complaints, as to the heart, occurring in dyspeptics, and also to emphasize the necessity in all such cases for particular care being paid to the healthy condition of the mouth and teeth and even more to the removal of worry, hurry or irregularity in taking of meals, work in too close proximity to meals and so forth. It is to be noted that it is chiefly those whose dyspepsia is caused or complicated by some of the above mentioned conditions that complain loudest of their hearts, and that the heart symptoms frequently become relieved by attention to such matters long before the dyspepsia is quite gone.