I look at a crowd of people and imagine all the skin, organs, arteries
and every piece of the human body gone except for the heart.
And I see hearts everywhere pumping away for the sake of life, hanging
in mid-air, oblivious to anything except keeping a perfect rhythm: thump,
THUMP, thump, THUMP, thump, THUMP.
We forget the heart inside our bodies, encased within our ribs, taking
us to work, to school, always at our beck and call. Then something scares
us or a loved one enters our space and we suddenly feel it beating faster
inside our chest.
Or after a fast run or hike up a steep mountain, the heart’s clean,
strong, beats – pushing our breaths faster – tells us we are
still very much alive.
The heart is a magnificent piece of machinery that begins three weeks
after conception, beating more than 2.5 billion times in a lifetime, to
be silenced only by death.
We owe much to our hearts, that relentless cardiac muscle that constantly
fills our entire body with blood, pumping this liquid blue to the farthest
tissue and back.
Those who smoke or have high cholesterol or diabetes are at risk of hurting
the heart and have the greatest chance for a heart attack, the painful
pressure and heaviness in the chest during activity.
But according to national data, since 2000 the number of incidents has
thankfully been declining. We owe that to better treatments for initial
heart attacks, better chronic therapy, better cholesterol drugs, and the
overall treatments for congestive heart failure have simply improved over time.
Aspirin, it seems, is still good for the heart and part of a heart-health
Asked to clarify the pros and cons about taking one aspirin a day, Dr.
Carter, Cardiologist at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, commented that he
feels it is obligatory for someone with clear cut coronary artery disease.
But what about taking an aspirin for preventative measures?
“Aspirin for preventative therapy starts with males in their 50s
and women in their 60s who are smokers, diabetics, or have high cholesterol,”
Dr. Carter states. And this is even without proven coronary heart disease
or increased heart troubles. “Those that are at low risk such as
a 40 year old woman who does not smoke, not diabetic and has good cholesterol
levels is more likely to get a complication such as gastric bleeding from
taking an aspirin. Talk to your doctor. Everybody is unique and your specifics
may fine tune any advice.”
To keep the heart healthy, Dr. Carter recommends eating lean meats, fish,
fruits and vegetables. Avoid starches and animal fats. And get at least
a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise three times a week; ideal is 45 minutes
of moderately vigorous exercise daily. Asked what he does to keep himself fit?
“I run, swim, bicycle, hike and lift weights.” A balance of
activities keeps the body fit and heart healthy.
On Valentine’s Day, hearts fluttered and briefly became the center
of attention, which makes it the perfect month for Heart Awareness.
Hoag in turn is encouraging everyone to take part in one of their heart
healthy activities, free community education classes and early detection
Celebrate your heart by visiting hoag.org/heart.