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Lipodystrophy and WastingLipodystrophy and Wasting
           
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Rapid Pulse Rate
Jul 5, 2002

Thank you for your recent responses regarding my niece who is wasting away. (Now at 74 lbs, 5'3" -- was 80 lbs. on 5/21/02.)

Last Friday, she had a blood transfusion (she's anemic)and they discovered a rapid pulse rate (180/beats per minute). Although her normal pulse rate is fast (120 is not unusual for her), (blood pressure is normal) he immediately gave her an EKG, and then decided to admit her into the hospital. The doctor explained that he wanted to put her on a real strong heart medication which normally could be taken at home, but because of her light weight and fragile state, he insisted that she go into the hospital overnight. The medication worked, and she was discharged today. (Pulse rate 118.)

My question is this: Does the heart start racing when the body is shutting down?

I'm hoping that she will learn from this experience; she absolutely HATES going to the hospital. And she was told by the doctor that the reason for the rapid pulse rate was probably due to malnutrition. She insists that she IS eating; but it is obvious to everyone (but her) that she's not eating enough. We see the doctor again tomorrow -- but I just would like to know what signs can we look for that her body is shutting down.

Thanks so much for your quick response.

Sleepless in Orangevale.

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

Dear Sleepless, Rapid pulse rate could mean a lot of things and can happen in cases of malnutrition. It does not necessarily mean the body is "shutting down." Take advantage of her time in the hospital (and even when she is out of the hospital) to have her eating habits evaluated. While a hospital is generally not a fun place to be, it is a pretty controlled environment to get a handle on food intake and the potential need for additional feeding strategies. It is wonderful that your niece has you to watch out for her. Best wishes on this!


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