Your Heart, My Heart
Merely using the word “heart” conjures a wave of nostalgic and exposed emotions, images, people, loves and memories.
Our heart holds them all.
The journey our heart has taken leaves an imprint that makes us the person we are today. The heart holds a special place in our consciousness and being. The heart is synonymous with love and compassion.
It seems the heart is more than just an organ within the center cavity of our body. I have taken my share of Anatomy & Physiology classes and can think of no other organ of the human body that elicits any such emotions. I have never heard “Have your liver in the right place” or a “broken pancreas!”
What have I learned about your heart and my heart?
The heart is that muscle-mass that thumps away in your chest. Most people think their heart is on the left side, when, in fact, the heart is dead center in the middle of your chest, with the largest part located on your left. Your left lung is smaller than your right to make room for this ever beating muscle.
Do you have any idea what our heart does for you every day? It seems we take our heart for granted and think it will tick away as if nothing we do really matters.
Our heart weighs between 7 and 15 ounces – similar to the size of an apple and is a little larger than your fist. The heart begins beating about 22 days after conception and stops, well, when you do! By the end of a long life, it can beat up to 3.5 billion times, according to the Texas Heart Institute. The average female heart rate is 78 beats per minute, while a male heart rate is about 70 beats per minute.
Do you realize, that every single day our heart beats for us about 100,000 times, sending 2000 gallons of blood streaming through our body like a river flowing along over rocks and fallen trees. Those “rocks” and “fallen trees” are the plaque formations being produced from those daily Big Macs and French fries we seem to crave for lunch every day. And those food choices are just the tip of the iceberg! We should make better food choices. After all, our heart is the hardest working muscle in our body!
Think about what our heart does for us every day. Get a tennis ball. Give it a firm squeeze. Do it over and over. After 100,000 squeezes, you will come to realize what your heart does for you every single day. Furthermore, it will do that for you for the rest of your life.
It is a long journey, starting from the large aorta (diameter of a garden hose) to the tiny capillaries (so tiny that it takes 10 of them to equal the thickness of a human hair.) that reach every cell of the body. Check out “Interesting Facts About the Human Heart” written as a supplement to the Los Angeles Business Journal.
I tell you all this so you gain a new appreciation of your heart – your one and only heart! I hope it stands as some incentive to take better care of this very vital organ.
Helen Keller talked about the heart most poignantly when she said: “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.”
Appreciate your heart with a depth of meaning like Helen Keller. Know more about your heart. Respect and cherish what our heart does for us.
TODAY is the day YOU are going to make changes for YOUR HEART!
There is no more waiting for tomorrow.
It is time to FOCUS and achieve a healthy lifestyle. Your heart needs you to take care of your body. It is the only place it has to live.
Cardiologists are extraordinary at what they do, improving with technology, research and procedures constantly. They treat the disease once it occurs. We can take care of our hearts before it occurs.
Listen to your heart. If your heart could speak, it would request this of you:
Eat those heart healthy foods. You know what they are. Be sure to make them your first choice. The heart protective foods contain omega-3s, vitamins and minerals and fiber and phytonutrients. Some examples are salmon, tuna, oatmeal, black or pinto beans, almonds, walnuts and brown rice. The heart-healthy fruits and vegetables include orange vegetables, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, citrus and blueberries.
Did you know that when our heart becomes overwhelmed with grief, depression and anger, it can break? For some, the shock and stress may even bring on a heart attack. A study found that heart attacks were far more likely after the death of a family member or a close friend. This risk decreases as the grief subsides.
Could you practice a little yoga, meditate or pray, and laugh out loud? Spend more quality time with your family and your friends. LAUGH!
Lightheartedness and optimism heal and invigorate. Seeking happiness related activities is a great way to relieve stress and improve heart health.
How about watching getting a hilarious movie that will make you laugh out loud and watch it with friends and family? Pick up a copy of Forest Gump or Wedding Crashers or When Harry Met Sally. (Let me know some movies that make you laugh out loud. I want to increase my “laughing time.”)
Health experts agree that a joyful laugh is great medicine! One study found that when individuals were watching a hilarious movie, their blood flow increased, as the lining of your blood vessel wall relax and expand. So have a good belly laugh and your heart will thank you!
You could just watch an episode of Ellen – on late afternoon on CBS. She is guaranteed to warm the heart and make you roar with laughter.
I want you to realize that if you overwork your heart, it can become damaged and that has potential to be fatal. You may have overtaxed your heart in the past with over aggressive activities, like snow shoveling this past winter. Conversely, beware of too many hours of inactivity and sitting in front of the TV or computer, the times you did not get enough sleep and don’t forget some of those overeating frenzies!
Overexertion when you’re not fit induces a release of adrenaline that can cause blood pressure and heart rate to jump, inducing a heart attack or even sudden death. The heart attack that occurs while shoveling snow is a classic case. You do not want to overtax your untrained body.
Do small things. If you sit for long hours at work, sit for long hours on a plane, or even watch hours of TV, you have a greater risk of a heart attack. Get up. Move. Try moving for 10 minutes every hour. Walk down the hall to communicate with others rather than emailing or texting. Get regular aerobic exercise. Make it part of your daily routine.
Physical inactivity increases cardiovascular risk. Becoming fit should be a slow and steady process. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.
Stress is bad for the heart. Take time for you. If you can sneak in an outdoor stroll or a time to explore nature, it will rejuvenate you. Doing anything outside significantly reduces the stress hormone and lowers blood pressure. It will benefit your heart and improve your mood. Take time to connect with friends and family.
The American College of Cardiology found that getting too little or too much sleep increases the risk for heart disease. Recommendation is 6 to 8 hours per night as stated by the American Heart Association. Sleep washes away any negatives from the day and helps you feel charged and ready to go. Have you ever noticed how troubles always look better after a good night’s sleep?
I know you hear it often, but it bears repeating. Smoking doubles your risk for heart disease. Smoking can actually trigger a heart attack, so don’t even think about it! Know that, if you are smoking, as soon as you stop, your risk of heart disease begins to decrease.
Alcohol intake should be moderate, especially if you know you have other heart disease risk factors. Too much alcohol can produce abnormal heart rhythms. No more than one drink a day for women and two for men is recommended.
Protect your heart by following guidelines for normal blood pressure. If you have not had your blood pressure checked recently, make an appointment with your doctor for follow-up. You can get a reading at health fairs, malls or some pharmacies. The best way to lower blood pressure is to maintain a healthy diet and weight, exercise regularly, stop smoking and moderate alcohol and sodium intake.
Your heart is in charge of the vital functions of your body. It seems wise to take care of it. Yet heart disease has risen over the last century in industrialized countries. This is attributed to changes in diet and lifestyle – factors YOU can impact. The American Heart Association confirms that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming 700,000 lives per year. Worldwide, 7.2 million people die from heart disease each year.
Please take care of your heart. ♥
Your heart knows your secrets and dreams and holds them deeply.
Take a deep breath. Smile. Notice the green grass under your feet. Take note of the warm sun above.
Now, leave the old life behind and get busy living life the way it should be lived.
AND REMEMBER – A healthy heart is a happy heart!