[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
July 3, 1972

Timeo Danaos et Globos Ferentes

Author Affiliations

Thessaloniki, Greece

JAMA. 1972;221(1):89. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200140073034

To the Editor.—  Back in 1957,1 based on an old Greek saying that old people die either because they fall or because they strain, I tried to find out what "straining" does to the cardiovascular system.Thirty-five patients (23 of them more than 40 years of age) with a normal (22 patients) or abnormal (13 patients) cardiovascular system were studied for electrocardiographic and blood pressure changes after defecation was simulated. A balloon was inserted in the sigmoid and was inflated to the point it induced the act of defecation. The results showed an increase of the blood pressure, both maximum and minimum, in all patients, and the development of electrocardiographic abnormalities in 12 of the patients. The changes concerned the QRS complex, the T-wave, and the ST segment. It seems that, as the Greek saying asserts, the irritation of the bowel, even for a normal act, is not devoid