Medical questions about the heart

What are the differences (if any) among murmur, arrhythmia, palpitation, flutter, arrest, and attack?

A mummur is a sound made by blood turbulence. It can be caused by a leaky valve, an abnormal opening or just rapid flow. A doctor can determine what the cause is by the circumstance and the area where the sound arises.
An arrhythmia is a disruption in the electrical signal from either the SA or AV node.

Palpitation is the feeling one might get from an arrhythmia.

Flutter is refering to atrial flutter, a specific arrhythmia.

Arrest is when the heart ceases to beat in a life-sustaining rhythm.

Attack, as in heart attack is a myocardial infarction.

Thanks, picunurse. Easily understood explanations and links!

I hope it’s OK to throw in an additional heart question. Could I get a layman’s explanation of what a “poor R-wave progression” on a cardiogram means?

Of the conditions mentioned in the OP, how many are treatable or reversible through exercise, diet and/or medications?

I know that paroxysmal atrial fibrillition can be helped in some cases by avoiding caffeine and excessive alcohol and by making sure you have adequate intake of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. I’ve also added fish oil to my diet, which seems to help. The episodes I have have been reduced in frequency, duration, and intensity, and I’ve been able to cut my anti-arrythmic drugs in half.

May I throw in another heart question? Women’s heart attack symptoms seem quite ill-defined. Are there specific symptoms and signs that might lead one to believe that she in fact might be having a heart attack? Non-specific symptoms like “a feeling of fullness in the chest” and “heartburn” and “left arm tingling” (especially for lefties) aren’t very helpful and are common. I was talking with some female co-workers today and all of us turn out to wonder about this, and all of us had experiences of going to the ER with symptoms in the range of the general description of women’s heart attacks and being dealt with very patronizingly and condescendingly (“Just calm down, honey,” e.g.), so any signal events that I can report back would be helpful.

The R-wave is part of the “QRS Complex” on an EKG/ECG. The different waves correspond to different parts of the heart depolarizing (contracting due to the electrical signal) and repolarizing (relaxing after the signal to contract is stopped.) The waves are P, Q, R, S, and T. The P wave is the depolarization of the atria. The “QRS complex” is the depolarization of the ventricles (the more important chambers.) The T wave is the repolarization of the ventricles. In a healthy heart, the waves will look a given way, and several defects, diseases, etc… can produce different wave patterns.

Within the QRS complex, the R wave denotes the depolarization of the right and left bundle branches and the Purkinje fibers, which ultimately leads to contraction of the ventricles. A poor R-wave progression would mean that the signal is not traveling through the bundle branches and/or Purkinje fibers fast enough.

Well, I wish I could be of more help, but all I can say, is that women have more subtle symptoms than men.
I’ve seen women whose only symptom was severe, unexplained pain in the left thumb.
Another had, what she thought was, a bad tooth on the left. Both were seen by doctors (a dentist) who saw a red flag in the odd symptom and following up with a cardiac work up.

I’ve linked to some studies and info on MI in women below.

Women’s risks

risks for women under 50

longer article on under 50 risks

Thanks! So, would this imply that the ventricles don’t contract properly and/or not quite at the right time and/or something else?

IANAD, but I don’t think you can definitively say from just an EKG exactly what the reason is. It could be just one part of the ventricles, it could be both ventricles, it could be just a small part along the conduction pathway, etc…This is why other things, like cardiac echoes, stress tests, etc… are done. If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with this, then you/they should follow up and find out exactly why and if there’s anything that can/should be done.

OK, at first I thought you were saying that the R-wave was the cause of the ventricles’ actions. Thus, I was wondering what impact the poor R-wave progression had on cardiac function.

But now, I wondering if you’re saying the R-wave is a result of the ventricles’ actions?

I appreciate the explanations, and don’t worry - I see a cardiologist regularly. I’ve had several heart attacks and this was a bit of trivia I was curious about.

Sort of. The R-wave is the measurement of the electrical activity caused by the propagation of the action potential along the bundle branches and Purkinje fibers. So it tells us how fast, in what direction, and to an extent, to what quality the electrical signal that tells your heart to beat is moving.

So the cause of the contraction of the ventricles is the electrical signal, and the R-wave is a measurement of that.