Book Review by KATHY MEGYERI
No doubt when you gather a few older friends together, invariably they will start talking about their recent open heart surgeries, stents and pacemakers. With heart disease being the No. 1 killer of Americans in this county, it behooves us all to learn what we can about maintaining the health of this magnificent and vital organ.
Heart: A History by bestselling author Dr. Sandeep Jauhar is an engaging and beautifully written read that tells all you need to know. Jauhar, a cardiologist and currently the director of the Heart Failure Program at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is an opinion writer for the New York Times and other major publications. He was also a first responder on 9/11.
When it comes to heart disease, he understands how this silent killer can affect anyone, including those without apparent risk factors. At 45 years old, a stress test revealed significant blockage in his arteries, even though he exercised regularly and led a healthy lifestyle. He delves into his family history and past traumatic events to find out why.
Heart attacks claim 18 million lives across the globe each year – nearly one-third of all deaths. Heart failure is the main reason patients over 65 years old are hospitalized – most patients die within five years of diagnosis.
Why? We’re too fat; we don’t move enough, we smoke, we drink too much, and we put excessive amounts of salt and sugar in our foods.
Jauhar details the history of heart surgery, research, transplants, cardiovascular medicine, technological advances and the artificial heart. And, he shares impressive information
about the wonders of this muscle mass, the first organ to develop at three weeks of life.
Our hearts are tireless workers, beating three billion times in the average person’s life. Each heartbeat pumps blood through 100,000 miles of vessels. The amount of blood that passes through an average adult heart in a week could fill a backyard swimming pool.
The brain and other vital organs cannot function without a beating heart, but a beating heart does not depend on a functioning brain.
Jauhar also discusses how emotional dysfunction, unhappy relationships, poverty, work, stress, the death of a spouse, financial worries, or other emotional events may fuel a heart’s demise.
We learn we can stop breaking our own hearts, not only by improving the way we eat and exercise, but also by controlling or eliminating emotional stressors as well.
Maybe one day, when we learn how to stay calm, improve our relationships and quit worrying so much, heart problems won’t have to be such hot topics at dinner parties.