Heart of Stone
For this image I chose a man with heart failure following a cardiac infarction – a heart attack. This is due to deposition of cholesterol plaques in the arteries, particularly those supplying the heart muscle. The plaques frequently calcify, sometimes known as hardening of the arteries. (Reference Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”) These days cardiac vessels can often be dilated using small intra-arterial balloons. But I selected pictures of stone and concrete surfaces with textures to match. For the binding chest pain of a myocardial infarct I found an old picture of a wooden water-tank taken in Maui years ago. It was covered with orange algae and bound around with hoops of steel. The surface texture was highlighted. This gave plaques of colour on the image like calcified plaques in arteries. The final picture is full of tension and darkness. It’s appropriate because myocardial infarction, although it has dropped considerably with improved first aid treatment and wide availability of equipment such as defibrillators, remains a leading cause of mortality worldwide.
Chest 101; Watery World
This collection of photographs included in this image was taken whilst out on an exercise with our Rural Fire Brigade of which I am a (very junior) member. It was to review fire-breaks in the surrounding area, and there was not a lick of fire in sight, fortunately, because we were in the midst of a severe drought, and the place would have gone up like a bonfire. Ironically the picture looks as though a flood has gone through. It is a little like our bottom paddock that in the wet season sits about five or six inches deep in water.
The watery theme continues in the Chest X-ray. It was from a man with severe acute pulmonary oedema. The commonest cause of this is from a myocardial infarct (a heart attack) which causes the left ventricle of the heart to fail suddenly causing massive change in pressures of the blood vessels of the lung with out-pouring of watery fluid into the alveoli – the air-sacs of the lung tissue. They fill up with water and displace air. If the situation is allowed to continue without treatment the person literally drowns in their own fluid. Fortunately this condition often responds rapidly to treatment; even just sitting the person up helps to relieve symptoms, but this must be followed with more active support measures.