Laughter usually makes us feel better. But one fan of the television show "Seinfeld" proved the exception to this rule. The case of a 62-year-old male who fainted at least three times while watching the television sitcom "Seinfeld" The man laughed so hard in response to character George Costanza's behavior (as played by the actor Jason Alexander) that he lost consciousness.
"While laughing hysterically, the patient suffered sudden syncope with spontaneous recovery of consciousness within a minute. During one event, he fell face first into his evening meal and was rescued by his wife," the clinicians reported.
It turns out that the comedy show had revealed a potentially serious problem in this patient. Cox's group reported that the man, who had a history of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, coronary bypass and smoking, received enough blood to the brain when he was calm, but when he laughed hysterically, he experienced a normal physiological phenomenon called the Valsalva maneuver -- forced expiration against a closed airway resulting in increased pressure in the chest that affects heart output.
But because the patient had blockages in arteries coming off the aorta, the main artery leaving the heart, the effect of the Valsalva maneuver was to reduce blood flow to his brain, causing him to faint. The authors performed a balloon catheterization to open up a major artery that supplied blood to the man's brain, and then inserted a stent to help keep the artery open.
SOURCE: Catheterization and Cardiovascular Diagnosis (October 1997;242), The New York Times (October 28, 1997)
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
A most interesting and unusual symptom for hardening of the arteries. I greatly admire the diagnostic skills of the physicians who were able to diagnosis such a serious problem. I could not disagree more vigorously though with their solution of angioplasty repair of the occluded blood vessel.
The science is very clear that one of the main causes of this person's high blood pressure and high cholesterol are his increased insulin levels. As the first item about diabetes reviews the solution which addresses the cause is to rigidly restrict specific carbohydrates.
This individual would also benefit from intravenous chelation therapy which gives a synthetic amino acid called EDTA which binds the calcium plaque buildup on the inside of the blood vessels and removes it from all the blood vessels in the body, not just the ones in the heart or brain. It is a very effective alternative to bypass or angioplasty. It costs about 90% less than those procedures but unfortunately is not covered by insurance.