Medical Monday- Know Your Health History!

Medical Monday is a part of my effort to return to some shorter posts to get more information out to you. It’s so important to know your medical history. So often a doctor will ask if a particular disease runs in your family. It’s to your advantage to know the correct answer! You can actually get insurance to pay for genetic testing for some diseases if the disease is prevalent in your family history. I’m going to start Medical Mondays with Ralph LARKIN, my great-grandfather.

Here is his death certificate from Missouri Digital Heritage.

Ralph’s official “immediate” cause of death was “acute myocardial decompensation”. Wikipedia says this:

“Acute decompensated heart failure (ADHF) is a sudden worsening of the signs and symptoms of heart failure, which typically includes difficulty breathing (dyspnea), leg or feet swelling, and fatigue. ADHF is a common and potentially serious cause of acute respiratory distress. The condition is caused by severe congestion of multiple organs by fluid that is inadequately circulated by the failing heart. An attack of decompensation can be caused by underlying medical illness, such as myocardial infarction, infection, or thyroid disease.”

Ralph’s ADHF was caused by the underlying illness of myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. According to and Wikipedia, Ralph’s signs and symptoms would have looked like this:

“Difficulty breathing, a cardinal symptom of left ventricular failure, may manifest with progressively increasing severity as the following:
-Difficulty breathing with physical activity (exertional dyspnea)
-Difficulty breathing while lying flat (orthopnea)
-Episodes of waking up from sleep gasping for air (paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea)
– Acute pulmonary edema
Other cardiac symptoms of heart failure include chest pain/pressure and palpitations. Common noncardiac signs and symptoms of heart failure include loss of appetite, nausea, weight loss, bloating, fatigue, weakness, low urine output, waking up at night to urinate, and cerebral symptoms of varying severity, ranging from anxiety to memory impairment and confusion.”

A physical sign that others would have seen include “jugular venous distension” (an enlarged jugular vein). It looks like this photo from Wikipedia (look for the arrow):


Lastly, Ralph’s death certificate lists his heart attack as being caused by Arteriosclerosis which is “hardening of the arteries” (from

I hope this week is a healthy one for you. If you are in my same line of descent, please take charge of your own medical health. You know your body. Watch out for these symptoms of heart failure. Change your diet and activities to take into consideration that you may be genetically predisposed to have heart problems and let your doctor know this!

Peace and health!

Until next time,
Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

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