Patient: I don’t think my blood pressure medication is working.
Me: Why do you think that? The blood pressure log you brought in was perfect!
Patient: But I found full pills in my poop! They are not dissolving!!! I don’t need the medication.
Me: That’s completely normal. It’s called the GITS delivery system, the medication comes out microscopic, laser drilled holes and the whole pill passes in the stool.
Patient: Do you mean to tell me I fished my poop out the toilet and cut it with a knife for no reason?
Me: (As I walk to sink again to wash hands) throw the knife away when you get home.
Let’s face it. Humans are interesting beings. We all have our quirks. You add health concerns and medications in the mix, we may do things which are…well just plain odd.
This dialogue above shows how comfortable some people are around poop. To the point of retrieval and dissection. I am not one of those people. I make no efforts to try to be comfortable with poop.
I meet plenty patients that want to talk about their bathroom habits. Mostly poop, mostly just because. Being in a cardiology office doesn’t deter them.
As a cardiac nurse practitioner, I typically just want to hear if patients are having constipation from diuretic therapy or dark, tarlike or bloody stool, which can be a sign of GASTROINTESTINAL BLEED sometimes related to medications. However, many feel that the poop they had (or have not been having) is the root of their cardiac issues. I have heard everything from high blood pressure to coronary artery disease to being blamed on poop.
Interestingly enough, there could be a link. In 2011, The American Journal of Medicine published an study researching cardiovascular disease and constipation in women. Surprisingly, the researchers discovered that constipation was a marker for cardiovascular risk factors and increased cardiovascular risk—what it did find was that constipation is a causative factor.
It seems to indicate that women who suffer from chronic constipation are not physically active and their diet maybe not be rich in fiber—both of which are considered risk factors for heart disease. Thus, the constipation serves as a red flag for risk factors that could lead to heart disease.
So continue monitoring poop….but within reason.
 Salmoirago-Blotcher E, Crawford S, Jackson E, et al. Constipation and risk of cardiovascular disease among postmenopausal women. The American Journal of Medicine. Published online June 10, 2011.