This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Family Doctor" book
Angina Pectoris, or Spasm of the Heart, is one of the most formidable and painful of the affections which terminate human life. It occurs more generally after middle age and is more frequent in men than women.
The attack is characterized by the sudden onset of agonizing pain, referred to the center of the chest, or a little to the left side of it, passing through to the spine, up to the left shoulder, and down the arm of the same side even to the extremities of the fingers. Sometimes both arms are affected. Along with the pain, which is always said to be agony beyond description, there is a sensation as of instant impending death. The paroxysm ceases as suddenly as it comes on. Angina pectoris may be preceded by warning symptoms, palpitation, shortness of breathing, indigestion, or it may come on unheralded by any of these, generally during some slight exertion, as walking up hill, or during strong mental emotion, but not unfrequently in the night, after the first sleep.
An attack of angina pectoris is an emergency affecting life, to which there are few equal; full, instant stimulation is demanded, and the first agent of the kind at hand must be used, till other remedies and proper assistance can be procured. A glass of spirits and water, as hot and strong as it can be swallowed, must at once be given. A strong mustard-poultice is at once to be applied to the front of the chest, the same being placed between the shoulders, and hot applications made to the feet. If the paroxysm be not subdued in a quarter of an hour, the stimulant is to be repeated; and this again after the same interval, if requisite. Spirits have been mentioned, as being the most readily procurable; but when ether and sal-volatile, either one or other, or both, are at hand, they are preferable, and must be given in just so much water as will permit of their being swallowed—a teaspoonful of each. It is needless, perhaps, to say that all these measures of an emergency in which not a moment is to be lost are while waiting the arrival of the medical attendant, and that to him must be intrusted the direction of that regulated mode of life which must ever be adopted after an attack of this disease.
Belladonna for sharp pains, red face. Gelsemium, sharp pains, difficult swallowing or talking, dark red face, mahogany color. Glonoine, rapid pulse, severe pains, better lying down.
Veratrum viride, quick pulse, nausea. Amyl nitrite, one part, alcohol, three parts, given by inhalation during attack, will give relief and no headache. A new remedy, Phaseolus nana, introduced recently by Dr. A. M. Cushing, Springfield, Mass., is giving wonderful results in various diseases of the heart; it is hoped it will prove beneficial in this dangerous disease.